Digital marketing can work wonder towards assuaging a crisis situation; knowing how to use the correct tools can save your company a lot of money and even your reputation.
A crisis can hit your company, big or small, at any time: a public relations disaster storming through your door, a product recall, a horde of angry customers; maybe just a tweet gone awry, a public comment gone bad. Whatever it is, you should make sure you’re prepared ahead of time.
The first tool you need to use in responding to a crisis is twitter – do not wait. Get your companies’ stance out to your audience as soon as possible; acknowledge the problem head on, no sidestepping. While you may confirm the bad, no news from you means your audience assumes the worst. Authenticity often proves key. Talk to your audience like a person, not like a machine, and they will sympathize with you more.
Proactivity also proves invaluable on twitter. Many potential crises appear avoidable through proactive listening. Monitor your customers, and if even one person has something bad to say, address it, send them a tweet.
Or, if you know you made a mistake somewhere but no one has caught onto it yet, give yourself in. It’s better admitting the mistake then taking the risk of it blowing up in your face, espouse humility and transparency with your confession.
Another tool for digitally addressing a crisis, when twitter just doesn’t cut it, is blogging. Blogging buys a company time; when a company shows that it is listening and responding, in full detail, people stop yelling.
Also, choose a ‘spokesblogger’ (or ‘spokestweeter’) beforehand (as in, right now). Have someone mentally prepared to handle the task and have them think through how’d they answer tough questions that may apply to any scenario. This also helps by having only one person publishing crisis content, so conflicting messages don’t arise.
Having a blog set up and ready to go ahead of time is key. This is called a ‘blogging lockbox’ or a ‘dark website.’ The site is designed to address a crisis, just with no content, and goes live once the crisis hits.
Depending on how bad the crisis is you may want to put some money into your site. Buying Google Adwords keywords for your site, related to the crisis, will help your site in the rankings. When people here about and go searching for news on the crisis, your message, not some slanderous message, is what will come up first.
Now, if you really want an A+ for the day, consider a ‘crisis URL portfolio.’ Buy up URLs like ‘(insert your company)suck.com’ so angry consumers can’t make sites with these domains come crisis time.
Tough times await (or you at least need to act like it), and digital marketing is going to get you through it. Embrace the apprehension. And just know that the longer it takes for you to respond to your crisis, the more your crisis will snowball. Control the message, control your crisis.