3 Foolproof Steps to Manage Any Social Media Crisis

It’s every company’s worst nightmare: Your business is in the news, and not for something good. Maybe it’s the departure of a high-profile executive, an accusation of racism, sexism or homophobia or simply a misunderstanding that escalated quickly. The public eye can turn on you in a flash, and it’s important to have a calm, calculated approach to crises, especially when they occur on—or are gaining traction due to—social media.

You don’t need to look too far to see an abundance of social media crises. Take Chipotle, for example. Allegations of everyone’s favorite fast-casual burrito spot engaging in unsafe food practices that led to an outbreak of E. coli have caused a massive national PR crisis that picked up remarkable steam on social media. Now the brand is attempting to rectify the situation by offering potentially millions of dollars of free food, and has held highly publicized food safety meetings for all staff.

Public perception is everything. The odds that your business will face a massively publicized social media firestorm are slim, but crisis management skills are essential for problems big and small that can affect you in the short term or even permanently. With clients across dozens of industries, we’ve dealt with social media crisis situations all across the board.

In these situations, it’s important to prepare both proactively and reactively. In more detail, a reactive response is what you might use if someone of influence engages with your brand on social media regarding your less-than-perfect health inspection score. At this point, you should decide the reach of the news. You may want to prepare a reactive social media comment, and decide the length to which you want to go to remediate the situation offline. Remember, in these very public times, the customer is always right, but your best move is to take this communication offline. You should also prepare statements for people within the business themselves, such as servers, cashiers and other hourly employees who might face abrupt, in-person questions from customers and the media. Nobody within the organization should be commenting on social media, except for the appointed “speaker of the house.”

Read more at PR News for “three guidelines to crafting social media crisis statements worth sharing. Staying relatively neutral without igniting further social media discussion is the key.”