A business crisis may come in many forms – product recalls, server meltdowns, reputation-damaging actions by a member of the company, and so forth. Depending on the size of your business, a crisis may a few customers, hundreds, thousands, or even millions. Regardless of the size of your business, you will want to have a crisis response plan ready to go to update your customers about what you’re doing to handle the situation and to respond to those talking about it. The following are the ways you can use content to respond to a crisis and protect your reputation.
Getting Your Stories Straight
Before you publish any content on a crisis, be sure that you have the facts. If your business has a team of people who handle your blog, social media, and press, be sure that they are all brought together in person or teleconference so that everyone knows exactly what is going on and what to say in response. This can prevent mixed messages from turning frustrated customers into confused and frustrated customers.
Letting Your Customers Know
Chances are, if something major is happening, your customers might know before you do. The last thing you will want to do is to pretend it’s not happening. If you know something is going wrong, start spreading the word as quickly as possible to either brace your customers for the impending fall out or to let them know you are aware of the problem and are working hard to find the solution.
One of the best places to start sharing the news is your own company blog. Create a post detailing what the problem is and what you are doing to fix it. If it’s faster to record a video about the problem than to get a writer in to cover it, then post it to your YouTube channel and embed it on your blog. Then make sure that the post is spread throughout your social media so that those who go to your Twitter or Facebook page first will get the message. Once published, be sure that you have someone on hand to answer any comments that come in to the post on your blog and any places it is syndicated.
Taking Charge of the Press
Is your crisis likely to be covered by major news networks? Just like you would send out a press release to attract media to something positive, you will want to use press releases to attract media to your take on the situation vs. opinions and speculation. If you have a written blog post or video transcript, translate it to a press release and send it out to the most reputable press release services. This isn’t just about SEO – this is about getting the word out, although you might get some juicy links in the “any press is good press” kind of way.
Covering the Social Media Bases
If there is anything you can guarantee, it’s that people will be talking about a company’s crisis on social media. Your content plan will need to extend beyond just updates about the situation to monitoring social media and responding to as many people as possible. You can do this in the following ways.
- Update your Twitter and Facebook page when there is major news in relation to the crisis.
- Monitor your @username mentions for those asking questions and respond to them.
- Create a search for your business name, product name (if applicable), names of people involved, and other relevant terms that people would be mentioning in relationship to the crisis on Twitter and respond to those talking about it.
- Monitor your Facebook page for new posts and comments so you can respond to them.
- Monitor competitor’s pages – some competitors will take your crisis and turn it into a way to snag your customers with special discounts. If you are offering a discount / refund for customers who have experienced any issues, be sure to mention it on these types of posts.
- Monitor your YouTube channel for comments on the channel itself or your latest videos (especially if you have ones that relate to the crisis itself or the people / product involved in the crisis and respond accordingly.
Also consider that you may need to look beyond social media and branch out to local business directories, review sites, and forums if applicable. While you can use Google Alerts to send you emails whenever business is mentioned anywhere online, it may not get the alert to you fast enough. So take some time to think about other major networks whose audiences may talk about your business and tune into them to see if they have any new conversations about your crisis that you need to respond to.
Responding to a Crisis on the Blogosphere
Last but not least, you will need content in the form of comment response on blogs and news outlets discussing your business’ crisis. Remember that people don’t want to hear you on the defensive or denying that there is a problem – they want to hear you acknowledge the problem, apologize, and have a plan to get the problem solved.
Don’t Wait Until Crisis Strikes
Does all of this sound a bit overwhelming to deal with during an actual crisis? Then don’t wait until one arises. You can be proactive by doing the following.
- Put someone or a team in charge of handling crisis response if one should arise. Make sure each of those people have access to the accounts / passwords they need to manage your reputation.
- Let the person / people in charge of your crisis response know who they need to contact within your business to find out the details before they start creating content and responding to the situation.
- Set up social searches for your terms and names related to your business on Twitter or using social media management tools like HootSuite.
- Set up Google Alerts to see who is talking about your business on a regular basis across blogs, forums, etc.
Have you ever had to handle a reputation management or other crisis online? What other tips would you suggest?