A plan for the rainy days

Yesterday, @PRNews asked followers, “What’s been the biggest PR crisis so far in 2015?”

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Some responses were humorous . . .

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Some were serious. Among the legitimate answers were the Germanwings crash, Indiana governor’s recent comments on religious freedom and the Hilary Clinton email situation.

Crises demand reaction. Although the Germanwings incident was no doubt one of the worst situations imaginable, responsibility and action was taken swiftly.

There’s no PERFECT, END-ALL social media crisis plan – but it is becoming necessary for all companies.

This Social Media Explorer article strives to articulate the role social media plays in a crisis plan. Integral points, COMIN AT YA:

Plan for things to go wrong
For a worrier like me, this is my part-time job. Instead of just fretting an unfortunate situation for your company, plan for it. It’s not IF – it’s WHEN. If your company is somehow separated or immediate action needs to be taken, who posts to social media? The intern? NO. Find out who takes over during a crisis situation.

Give ongoing updates
Germanwings is actually rocking this. Make your website and social media easy access to YOUR updates. Your company should be the first place people hear news from – or at least be consistent with released information. A few weeks after the crash, people outside the immediate town, friends and family still want to know if they should fly Germanwings any time soon.

On the other hand, #DeflateGate was handled kind of poorly by the Patriots . . . but SOMEHOW it all just went away after the Super Bowl.

Sensitivity, sensitivity, sensitivity (and awareness)
Bad things happen. Prepare to change your social media plan to crisis mode in an instant. Cancel scheduled posts, address the situation – whether it’s your company’s situation or a sensitive situation to your state, city or nation. If Germanwings posted about new complimentary snacks or flight tips for families with babies, people might be outraged (now, or the hour after the crash).

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Your brand is your baby. Be gentle, have a plan and protect it.

Jamie

In Case of an Emergency

In today’s technologically advanced era, it is inevitable to end up in a social media crisis, especially with the many different social media platforms people use to vent/rant about companies and organizations.

The problem with this is:

IF YOU DON’T HAVE A PLAN, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO?

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Here’s a short list that can help you prepare for a social media crisis:

  1. Detect

    Make sure you always have an eye and ear on what people have to say about your organization. If you see something that misrepresents your company, or could potentially damage your organization’s image, act accordingly immediately.

    By “act accordingly immediately” I mean either a) address the comments made with a reply, or b) with a generalized announcement on your social media. If it is only one or two negative comments I would opt for option a.

  2. Identify

    Always make sure you look for who said it. That’s easier said than done. It’s not always easy to find one person who started something, but make sure you try to look for the source. Also, make sure to find out what happened and why it happened. It may be easier to address it that way.
  3. Consider

    Use a language your organization uses in all of their messages. You don’t want to sound rude or disrespectful. Always keep a professional demeanor. Address the problem quickly, but don’t rush into posting messages without critically “inspecting” your message before it’s being sent.
  4. Control

    If you’re not the CEO, Owner, etc. make sure to get approval from the person that is in charge. It’s critical that your messages convey what your organization stands for.
  5. Respond

    Respond on appropriate social media platforms, as well as traditional media if necessary.

As you can see, there are a lot of small things that need to be considered when it comes to responding/reacting to a social media crisis.
The easiest way, which is not always so easy, is to be proactive instead of reactive. By proactive I mean, don’t give your consumers/followers anything to complain about. Make sure that small problems are addressed immediately so they don’t turn in to bigger things. DON’T IGNORE WHAT PEOPLE HAVE TO SAY. In the end, they are the ones paying your bills.

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So, if you ask my personal opinion on what to do:

1. Monitor your social media
2. Be proactive instead of reactive
3. Be timely
4. Be respectful
5. Stay professional

Crises happen. We are PR professionals. This is what we signed up for the day we graduated college with our degree in public relations.

Happy social media monitoring,

Jennifer

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

Is Monitoring Important ? YES !

Who knew monitoring would become so important on social media? Who knew there would be a bunch of ways to easily monitor a brand’s social media? NOT ME, until now.

Keeping an eye on a brands social media channels is becoming more and more crucial for companies to be successful. Monitoring a brands social media is way more than just making sure their brand is posting the correct things, its about building and maintaining your brand. By using social media, a brand can receive positive or negative feedback at any time. All of this feedback can help build a brand tremendously, you just have to watch it.

This article gives five reasons as to why monitoring social media is essential for PR.

The first reason being that public relations is all about interpretation and anticipation of the public and their attitudes on things. By monitoring social medias it allows brands to take a look at all the feedback from consumers, negative or positive, and grow from them. If the feed back is negative it will allow the brand to jump up and fix the problem that they are getting the negative feedback from. By doing this, a brand could possibly prevent a future crisis.

The second reason being that social media monitoring is crucial during the marketing research. In order to to find a companies target audience they need to monitor their social media pages in order to find out what their online habits are.

The third reason is by social media monitoring a company can reply back to their customers. Companies can be interactive with their customers and once they post about a problem they may be having the company can instantly get back to them.

The fourth reason being that watching social medias can help companies in the future. They can provide information that can tell companies which social media were most effective and had the most post. They also determine which topics drove conversations between their consumers.

The last reason is that social media monitoring is a good way to turn complaints and negative feedback into positive publicly. After a company may get a bad review by someone on social media, by talking with them publicly and finding a way to make things better for the customer, it will allow other users to see how important it to the company to satisfy the customer.

There are plenty of social media monitoring websites, some that cost money and some that are completely free. It is up to the company to realize that motoring social media can be one of the most important things they can do to help build their company.

PR people aka little spies

So you want to travel to Italy. You probably won’t search for airplane tickets on Facebook. You won’t check your availability on your watch.

Similarly, as PR people, we won’t find the answers to social media engagement at the bottom of an apple juice box.

We can’t look for information in the wrong places. Without proper monitoring, our client’s social media efforts can find its way to the landfill.

If you’re not monitoring, you’re missing the point. Let a Mashable article tell us why we need some major eyes on our consumers (and fellow companies):

Crisis Management
Thanks to Adam Horn, we all know how stressful a crisis can be. How does an airline handle a crash? How does a school district handle a school shooting? A sex scandal? These are the extremes, but even the “smallest” should be considered a big deal and be given the same attention. Social media monitoring allows a company to analyze consumer thoughts before, during and after any crisis. Do people agree with what the media may be telling them? Do people still want to engage with your company? Finding and addressing opinions on social media ensures a quick response – control the crisis.

Influencer Identification
We have to know what platform is most relevant and helpful in certain situations. This goes back to the landfill thing – our efforts are trash unless administered correctly. Look where people engage most heavily

Building Relationships with Media and Customers
A response from a brand speaks volumes. Monitoring the conversation surrounding your company demands response.

As for reporters, the relationship is key. Engaging in real life with some lets others feel more comfortable reaching out for a story.

If you’re not willing to make friends, get out of your job (but what do I know?)

Creative Feedback and Ad Targeting
After online shopping (browsing) for clothes I can’t and shouldn’t buy, the store’s ads are EVERYWHERE. AND! it is featuring the beautiful dress I was just looking at!

It’s sort of weird. I can’t deny that it hasn’t pulled me back in either. They’re using tools such as Hootsuite, Social Mention or PinAlerts to follow our every click . . .
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Give the people what they want! But don’t be creepy . . .

Jamie

Why and How to Monitor Social Media

WHY?

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In today’s world, we spend many hours on social media. People use social media personally and professionally. It is important to monitor social media in both circumstances, but it especially critical in a professional setting/business.

Monitoring social media can help you understand your customers, competitors and your own social media strategy – if you have one – which you should as a business.

Below is a short list of reasons why you, as a business, should monitor your social media platforms. You can find the entire article here.

  1. Is Your Social Media Plan Working For You? (not listed in above article)

    First things first. If you have created a social media campaign or social media plan, you want to evaluate regularly to ensure your plan is being carried out the way you hoped.
    If you’re not gaining the followers you planned on, or if you’re not posting as much as you wanted to, or if you don’t see any unique visitors, then it might be a good idea to rethink your plan/strategies.
  2. Respond to Complaints and Praises

    With Web2.0 it is incredibly important that you always monitor what your customers have to say to and about you. Just a couple of negative comments can set a snowball effect of negative comments, as well as a decrease in sales, followers, etc.
    Make sure that you comment on the complaint and praise. Consumers like to see a brand being active and proactive.
  3. What’s What

    Be aware of which social media platform works best for your brand/company. If you notice Facebook is more active than your Twitter, then either

    a) Rethink your social media plan/strategies
    b) Use Facebook to drive more people to your Twitter as well

  4. Monitor Competition

    How many like brands are on social media? Do you follow them? Do you read their posts/blogs/tweets?
    All this is very important for you as a brand/business. Now I’m not encouraging you to copy them, but compare them to yourself or vice versa. Fix what needs to be fixed accordingly – that doesn’t mean you have to fix anything.

HOW?

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There are many ways of monitoring your social media. There are tools that make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to gathering all the info you need to successfully monitor your social media. Online you can find and article about the Top 10 Social Media Monitoring Tools.

My favorite tools are:

  1. Google Analytics

    Google Analytics will monitor the traffic on your social media. It shows you how many people clicked on a certain post, where the people were from and even how long they were on that specific post/page. There are a lot more benefits if you use Google Analytics. It’s fairly simple to set up, although I recommend it more for brands/businesses who have many different, active social media accounts.

  2. Hootsuite

    Hootsuite is an amazing tool. It lets you schedule social media posts, as well as track and monitor social media. There are different versions of it. The free version is plenty for a small to midsize business.

Now that you know why you should monitor social media, and how you can social media, I hope you have loads of fun exploring.

Happy Monitoring,

Jennifer

Why should I monitor my social media?

Having unmonitored social media accounts is best described by our textbook as being a ship at sea without any kind of navigation or radar. It’s like blindly putting everything out there and just kinda hoping the magic happens itself. Unfortunately, it’s just not that easy!

Cision gives some really great benefits to monitoring your accounts. The process of tracking and measuring your social media may sound kind of complicated, but it’s entirely worth it in the end and an absolute must if you want to improve your brand.

  • Respond to complaints – this is my favorite benefit. By paying attention to what’s happening with your accounts, you can quickly see any customer issues and take care of them before they become even bigger problems. Your customers will appreciate that you took their complaints seriously, and you’ll be able to prevent negative news about your brand spreading around the internet.
  • Manage any crisis – this is pretty similar to the last one, but is very important because as soon as something bad happens, you can hit your accounts and start working on your crisis plan. Some of the worst crises have been managed well by simply updating your audience on what’s going on and how you plan on fixing it.
  • Monitor the competition – the easiest way to check out what your competitors are doing is by seeing what they’re posting and what other people are saying about them! Their accounts will be just as transparent as yours; you can see exactly what they’re up to from an audience perspective.

These are just a few of the reasons you should be monitoring your social media accounts. You can have all the strategies and tactics you want, but without means to measure your success, how do you know if you are successful? Take the time to measure your likes and comments or the conversations surrounding your brand. It will be well worth it in the end.

-Marisa