10 Social Media Lessons About Crisis Communications

As many brands have learned since plunging into social media, it is critical to have a plan to respond to crises that relate to your business. When issues arise, both big and small, having a chain of command and response matrix available can help thwart an issue before it gets worse.

In a SXSWi session titled, "Disaster: The Future of Crisis Communications," Anastacia Visneski of the U.S. Coast Guard, John Visneski of the U.S. Air Force, Brandon Brewer, a Public Information Consultant, and Hanson Hosein, Director of  the Communication Leadership grad program at the University of Washington, showed the importance of real-world disaster communications in today's social world. Here are some tips which your brand can take from some of these experts in disaster relief.

1. Make sure that people are getting their information from the right places, especially during times of crisis. Get everyone responsible for communicating together to speak with one voice, and get information out that people need to have. -Brandon Brewer

2. The ultimate key is flexibility. There's no longer the perfect news cycle and people won't wait for you to create the perfect press release. It's about maximum exposure with minimum delay. -Anastacia Visneski

3. Social media is where your voice is heard. If you aren't saying something in that space, someone else will. That's scary, because they might be distributing the wrong information.  -Anastacia Visneski

4. If you have a long-term issue that requires a completely new account, link to the new account from sites that people already check. -Brandon Brewer

5. It's important for people to know that you're listening. Connect with people deeply embedded within your community already. Establish ties with influencers to help distribute the correct and helpful information. -Anastacia Visneski

6. If a spoof account is out there and gaining popularity, a) don't feed the trolls and b) reach out to them and see if you can bring them into your fold. Often times, people are just looking for some attention. -Anastacia Visneski

7. Have your plan prepared ahead of time. Whether it's a natural disaster or a brand crisis, you don't want to scramble to create a plan after the disaster has already occurred. -Brandon Brewer 

8. There's so much competition in trying to get your message out. Using social media, you're able to get a lot of traction by engaging third-parties using social influencers. Go to them when you really need help. -Brandon Brewer

9. If you have multiple agencies or multiple people responding to a crisis on social media, you need to make sure you have a chain of command so that people aren't talking over each other. -Hanson Hosein

10. If you make a mistake, your best bet is to man up and be honest. Admit that you thought you had the right information, but that you were wrong. The worst piece of information you can give is anything that has a number attached for it. If there's a finite number, give out the worst case scenario.              -Anastacia Visneski and Brandon Brewer Tour.png
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