It’s common knowledge: Social media and the way individuals use the Internet has changed the rules of the game when it comes to crisis management.
It’s no longer about communicating your message to the public but rather communicating your message with your audience, in real-time and with wide-open eyes and ears. The eyes are for monitoring and the ears are for listening. Little Red Riding Hood’s big bad wolf had big ears and big eyes and you’d better plan for your brand to have the same in a crisis. Otherwise, you’ll be faced with the public huffing and puffing and blowing your brand’s reputation right out of the water – or search results if you’d rather. (Or were those the three little pigs?)
So, if you’re new to the new rules of crisis communications, here’s a cheat-sheet of sorts, in an attempt to keep the underprepared on the right path:
The 10 new rules of crisis communications
- Communications are now a 2-way street, whether you want them to be or not.
- Real-time is not just a suggestion but an expectation of your audience. An expectation that will not turn in your favor if unmet.
- Informative is the only way. If you’re not informative somebody else will be – on their own channels that you have zero control over.
- Listen, listen, listen! Listen to what others are saying, what they’re not saying and where they are and are not saying it.
- When you combine real-time and 2-way you get responsive. Your audience will be responsive and so must you.
- Sincerity, honesty and apologies go a long way. But remember: actions speak so much louder than words
- Humans dealing with humans. Your brand may be a brand, but it is run by humans communicating with other humans. Act like it.
- Adaptability and flexibility are highly recommended. Adapt your crisis communications for different platforms and audiences that you need to communicate your messages with and on.
- Twitter-friendly communications are your friend. For every update, response and statement you release, have a Twitter version (and check out this cool tool)
- Communicate with your staff throughout the entire crisis. Internal communications are key to today’s successful crisis management.
These 10 rules are just the beginning, though a very good place to start. The sooner you get acquainted with the new rules of crisis communications, the sooner you can feel confident that, in the event that a crisis unfolds, you and your entire staff will be prepared to protect your brand’s reputation for the long-term.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.