Online Reputation Management and Crisis Communications Planning
June 28, 2009 1 Comment
Back in May, I listened to Christopher Lower speak about online reputation management at The Social Media Breakfast in St. Paul. Chris is the Owner and Director of Media And Communications for Sterling Cross. I covered much of this information in an earlier post called “Does Your Brand Own it’s Online Reputation. The issue of crisis communications planning was mentioned in that post, but not in depth. It is critical and not enough companies are paying atttention. We have seen cases where companies have lost billions of dollars in revenue, legal expenses and more as a result of not having a plan in place.
According to KRC research regarding the recovery process of reputation management:
- 91% of global executives believe their brand can recover
- On average, recovery takes 3-5 years
- Only 48% of companies are prepared for reputation damage
48%? That number had me stunned. The old model (pre web 2.0) of crisis communication planning involved planning for crisis, addressing negative groundswell, providing a crisis response, public relations and assessment/monitoring. Social media demands we engage in a conversation
How: Strategy and Response: When complaints are made, timing is crucual. The immediate course of action involves checking sources and facts to determine credibility of the concern.
- Where to respond: Respond on the same sites where the complaints occur. If it happens to be on someones blog, address the issue and respond on that blog, then turn around and post the response on your own site as well.
- When to respond: Timing is everything and waiting to put a plan in place when a crisis occurs is the wrong approach. 24 hours is a long time on the internet and slow responce can result in billions of dollars in losses, legal expenses and brand reputation.
- Escalation: Although it won’t always be the first plan of action, you may need to involve your legal team or bring in a team who understands 1st amendment law because issues on the internet are not always clear or concise. Cease and desist orders to force removal of your intellectual property may need to be drawn up. Harassment, defamation of character or online bullying or copyright laws may apply.
In conclusion, Lower provided the following information about the planning process and the reality for online reputation management:
Crisis communication planning post 2.0 process: Check the facts – is the source legitimate?
- Determine impact
- Bring together trusted counsel
- Understand your detractor & their motivation
- Decide right response – be sincere, that you care about quality of what you are doing
- Host the conversation – give audience a forum
Best Defense is a good offense (fill the sandbags before the flood)
- Conversation happening whether you like it or not
- Not good enough be present online engage
- Transparency & authenticity rule the net and will always be found out and called
- True customer service means responding that you care about what you are doing through providing thoughtful timely response
- Get a community manager. Hire someone to be the online face of your brand
- Continue to adapt and engage
By Kakie Fitzsimmons