Social Media: Failing And Succeeding During A Crisis

Crises happen. They’re a part of life; especially PR life. We all dread it and hope and pray we never have to deal with it, but we’re (mostly) prepared for it. Companies spend tons of time and money into putting together their crisis management plans to ensure that they’re prepared for the worst. Unfortunately, though, not everyone realizes the importance of social media when it comes to their crisis management plans.

Social media is the fastest way to send information and create an open line of communication with your audience. Sure, people still watch the news and read newspapers, but how long does that take compared to refreshing your Twitter feed? Not only that, but news spreads quickly via discussions. It’s important to utilize your social media accounts to let your consumers know what’s going on.

Germanwings did a good job of being transparent after their tragic plane crash in the French Alps. They tweeted information for the public, gave condolences, and offered free flights for the victims’ next of kin. They managed to reassure the public in a time of chaos. Not only that, they began using #indeepsorrow and changed their traditionally maroon and gold logo to black and grey to symbolize mourning. Germanwings is an excellent example of a well implemented crisis management plan.

Not all companies handle their crises as well, though. For instance, during the BP oil spill, Tony Hayward, chief executive of BP, gave a press conference that only worsened the situation. Hayward lacked compassion and failed to reassure the public that BP was doing all they could to fix the leak. Social media did not work in their favor because the press conference instantly spread around YouTube and negative discussions began popping up everywhere.

Social media during a crisis is very important, but can also negatively affect your brand. Be careful in how you choose to implement it, and pay attention to what your audience is saying. Most importantly: think before you post.

-Marisa

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