It’s been a while since I have written a post dedicated to crisis communications on my blog, so I felt today’s post should reflect the nature and state we are experiencing in crisis communications.

We are in an age where it appears that with every day that passes, a new crisis comes up, especially when it comes to social media.

I think we are at a point where we understand that social media is not like traditional media and has its own unique characteristics to note and be aware of. It’s going to continue to evolve and grow with technology advances and social changes and lifestyle adjustments. Look at what we are seeing with the growth of wearable technologies, augmented realities, and other new tools to consider.

However, we have to look at the fundamental characteristics that makes social media an important channel to consider, and I think Gerald Baron’s video about the differences of social media crises compared to other crises is good to note.

As we finish up 2013, we should reflect not only some of the prominent case studies in crisis that happened, but also reflect on what are some of the strategies and actions we need to take as crisis communicators to be better prepared and effective when it comes to effective crisis communications on social media. Here are just a few things I think we all need to be aware of in this area:

  • Proper social media education is training necessary: We have seen when it comes to social media, there are times where education and awareness of the power of mediums like social media is essential to address. Look at what happened to the Asiana Airlines case earlier this year with social media – lots of points here about the role social media plays here for PR and crisis communication professionals.
  • Growing concern over vitality of unconfirmed information in crisis: This was definitely apparent with the Boston Bombing this year – everyone was trying to be the first with breaking news, which caused people to forget how to investigate, research the facts, and not jump to conclusions about what was going on. This trend was apparent already with social media, but this particular crisis really brought it to the limelight for professionals and researchers in this area.
  • Cyberbullying on social media continues to rise: We have to provide tools, resources, and tips to people to be aware of what they can do and what actions they can take when it comes to cyberbullying on social media. We have seen cases this entire year of cyberbullying on social media across levels of schools and even in the professional workplace. Looking at this issue and discussing what we can do about it needs to be at the forefront of discussion for social media and crisis communication professionals.
  • Power of owned media & transparent narrative: We saw this in the Boston Bombing with the Boston PD and their social media presence, but crisis leadership is key in a time of crisis and needs to be present and accounted for online as well. Melissa Agnes wrote a wonderful blog post on the Calgary Floods and how crisis leadership was displayed virtually on social media – which I think shows the power of controlling the narrative, being transparent and responsive on social media, and always monitoring what people are talking about. In a time of crisis, if people can’t get to the emergency responders or authorities, they are going to go on social media.
  • Engaged in latest news about cyber security to protect reputation online: We saw this for Jeep and Burger King when they got their accounts hacked, and we have to prepare for situations where this may happen. However, we have to make sure we don’t cry out wolf and say we hacked ourself like Chipotle did earlier this year. This does send the wrong message for the public in many ways.

There are many situations and possible scenarios we have to be aware of when it comes to social media crises. We are living in an age where we have to be present on social media, engaged with our audiences, and be up to the latest trends on what is going on with our communities.

We have to set up a strong team to react in real-time and really taking a look at the stakeholders we are trying to target and reach in a moment of crisis. All of these factors are key for us to note as crisis communication professionals presently.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

Karen