Wed, Jun 9, 2010
A well thought-out crisis communication plan has always been a necessity for many B2B companies, although larger companies, or especially public companies, are the ones who generally create them. Many PR professionals recommend that all companies should have something in place. These plans are about being prepared with messaging and tactics for expected situations so you can respond quickly. Not only does the real-time web change the speed of what quickly means, but situations can arise in a variety of online forms as well.
Starting a Crisis Plan
If you don’t have a crisis communication plan in place, social media monitoring can help you establish an online baseline for sentiment, understand potential threats and set up a real-time dashboard for appropriate responses. While any monitoring plan always begins with the company name and top brand or product names, for crisis planning these help you understand what the initial online landscape looks like. Are there mentions of your company on the social web, and are they positive or negative? This is the general background to determine when the comment level changes, which could indicate a situation that needs to be addressed.
Monitoring for negative comments related to your industry or product types can help you find sites and people that are especially critical of basic industry practices and competitors. It is not a big stretch to think that these sites or people could also create a crisis situation for your company. These are sources that you can monitor to make sure you are aware of bigger issues or to make sure you are immediately aware of comments targeting your company.
One of the key parts of a crisis plan is to know who needs to respond and what the responses to particular situations are. By setting up a monitoring dashboard and sharing specific actions with the right people, they can be notified more quickly and take the appropriate action. Even small businesses should take the time to prepare for potentially damaging situations.
Managing an Existing Crisis Plan
If you do have a plan in place, monitoring can help you augment your plan and broaden your online sources to be aware of situations. While you may have a notebook with sample letters and actions to take for every imaginable crisis, you need to know when to take action, or alert your pr firm to take action. If your social media monitoring solution is managed by a firm that does not handle your pr and crisis communication, make sure everyone is in the loop regarding the crisis plan.
When setting up your crisis monitoring, make sure you are seeing local sources including newspaper and television sites where factories are located, including those of partners and vendors. While you may not control your production facilities, online monitoring may be the best way to alert you to potential issues that affect your company. While you hope that a plant manager contacts the corporate office before something makes the local news, there are local situations that affect local plants that happen outside the confines of your location. Situations can also arise with employees that take place offsite, and could make the local news before anyone at your location is even aware of it.
And where this all seems to come together is that all information is posted online before it is distributed through traditional media, and online attacks, even on your own presences on the social web, are both real and damaging, so it makes sense that a key component of your crisis communication plan is the in-depth, online monitoring provided by a social media monitoring solution.
What are some ways that social media monitoring can help your crisis communication plan?