A Social Marketer’s Emergency PR Workflow
Imagine a scenario where the shit just hit the fan. A stupid mistake or a simple misstep leads to a PR nightmare. How do you handle it? For a social marketer, there’s a number of ways to diffuse the situation, it simply depends on what the best strategy is for you.
I’ve put together two potential strategies for a brand that is experiencing some kind of PR backlash.
Scenario 1: A Simple Misunderstanding
Sometimes a PR backlash just starts because of a simple misunderstanding, or rumor. It’s not always true and it’s up to you to clear it up quickly.
When something happens, time is of the essence. If the brand doesn’t respond quickly, people will start to make wild assumptions. These assumptions can end up hurting the brand more than the original misunderstanding.
A socially savvy marketer will work to quickly get the correct information out. For many that means using Twitter, Facebook, or some other micro-blogging platform to inform their consumers with what is happening and why it occurred.
Once the initial statement on Twitter has been made, the next step for a brand is to explain the situation in-depth on a blog and through a press release.
The idea is to get as much information as possible out. Making sure the information is easy to spread, not published as an image, ensures that the right story is being told and not a false rumor.
Scenario 2: Damn It We Messed Up Big Time
Not every emergency situation is as simple as the scenario above. Sometimes, (yes it happens) the brand messes up and makes a huge mistake or just does something that they hoped no one would ever know about.
In this instance, it’s important to maximize the response while minimizing the footprint. What I mean by this is, you want to remember that any press releases or answers you publish will forever exist online. Most press gaffes will blow over, especially once a response is given, but by adding content about the gaffe, you may be the reason why it lives on forever.
To minimize the footprint, the best way to respond to any public relations issues is either on Twitter or Facebook. Don’t include a link to your site, and make a simple announcement. This ensures that the the news gets out, while minimizing the longevity of the problem.
Not every public relations emergency is the same, some require a shotgun approach of getting out a message, while some responses shouldn’t be publicized. The Internet has changed the way PR has to be handled, and the idea that even a response lives on forever needs to be kept in mind.
Don’t let your response exasperate the problem, but don’t let inaction let a backlash snowball. Recognizing the proper response takes experience and an understanding of your community. If you’re comfortable interacting with your fans, it can be easier to respond correctly.