An online, integrated crisis communications strategy is necessary in today’s connected society. Recent budget cuts, furloughs and layoffs due to sequestration have pushed many companies to turn to their social media accounts to share vital information with employees, stakeholders and the general public.
BAE Systems, Inc., a global defense, security and aerospace company, has recently struggled with rumors across the Internet and in the media about employees being laid off or furloughed due to sequestration. BAE monitored the situation and shared information through their social media accounts to keep the general public, media and employees informed on the uncertainty. They responded when necessary to discern the truth from the fiction.
Here are some tips on how to manage any crisis online:
1. Connect & Share – Use a blog, Facebook account, Twitter account or some form of online presence to share information as it becomes available. It’s important to make sure that the information comes from you first when possible, to avoid rumors and hearsay.
2. Monitor, Monitor, Monitor – Always track what is being said about your company online. It is even more important in the event of a crisis. This will also help to identify comments that may need a response and to verify the correct information is being shared.
3. Know When to Respond – The Internet gives the general public a voice. Sometimes, that voice is not on your side and can fuel the fire during a crisis. Many times people post negative comments hoping to get a negative response. In cases like this it is not always necessary to respond.
4. Know How to Respond – Emotion is what charges an issue. Removing emotion from a response and sticking to the facts will help sizzle out the fire.
5. Timeliness – Information spreads within minutes on the Internet, which is why timeliness is so important. Having a set, internal plan and chain of communication ready will allow for quick responses to comments, rumors or hearsay.
An integrated approach to your crisis communications strategy will give you the upper hand to handle any crisis. The key is having a plan in place that will make it possible to react as soon as the crisis occurs.
Read Part 1 of our series on crisis communications, “The Crisis Conundrum.”