Insights / social-media

Using Social Media to Handle Crisis Communications

Crisis communication has been part of the public relations world for a long time. Traditionally, it was dealing with issues that organizations face and working with the press to make sure stories were accurate. Thanks to social media, crisis communication has changed. With constant public commentary on everything from customer service to a damaged package you received in the mail, acknowledging customer complaints publicly has been a skill companies have had to learn.

However, what if your company is facing a crisis with an ex-employee who has the only access to an outlet that you had been using for marketing? Basically, your brand is now in the hands of someone who could disclose confidential — even harmful information.

This is an issue that Mason recently managed for one of our clients, and here are some basic steps to take care of the issue. I will lay out what happened and what we did to resolve the issue.

Situation 1: An employee was in charge of communications for a company, there were cut backs and the employee was let go. The company had a Facebook fan page that was controlled by the now ex-employee. The employee begins releasing internal memos on the Facebook page and commenting publicly about an old, but sensitive issue.

Response: The employee was no longer the authority behind the brand, and because he was using a site that had a copyrighted logo on it, Mason was able to reach out to a contact at Facebook and have the site taken down.

Situation 2: The employee sets up a new Facebook fan page using the same logo to release even more information that was detrimental to the brand.

Response: Again, we reached out to our contact at Facebook and informed her that there was copyright infringement through the use of the logo, and the page needed to come down. It did.

Situation 3: The employee uses a free service to set up a website that has the identical URL that the company has, except with a number at the end of it. For example, www.xyz1.com instead of www.xyz.com. The website has many items on it that were meant to be internal and should not have been released.

Response: Mason determined what service was used to build the site and contacted them directly. The site was pulled down immediately. Then we performed a search through the html to see if we could identify a username or email address so that we had proof of who was responsible.

Finally after pulling down multiple Facebook pages and websites the issue cooled down and the person went away. Through all of this, in addition to advising internal stakeholders and preparing reactive media materials, there is one step that we did that made all of the difference. We created a legitimate Facebook fan page and maintained it so that people knew it was the company speaking to them, and they never lost the important engagement factor.

There are many things that could have been done to prevent some of this from happening, most obviously giving control of all social networking profiles to more than one person! Remember, social media is about conversations and engagement. Stay transparent and honest with your customers about situations and you will protect yourself and your brand online.