10 Steps to Managing a PR or Social Media Crisis

Nearly one in four brands don't have a set crisis communication plan in place. 

And considering 80% of customers use social media to engage with a brand during a crisis, not having a plan in place could be more detrimental than you think as a tweetstorm roles in.

In the digital communication landscape, it's crucial to have a process in place to know how and when to communicate during a crisis properly. What's even more important? Taking the proper steps before the crisis hits; You could call it a pre-plan plan. 

Now, let's go through the five steps to take to prepare for a social media crisis. (All of these steps, are outlined in the infographic below). 

How to Prepare for a Social Media Crisis 

Step 1: Use Social Listening & Media Monitoring to Create Alerts

You can't manage a crisis if you don't know one is happening. By using a social media listening or media monitoring platform to monitor conversations around your brand, your team can prevent a negative tweet from becoming a full-blown crisis. Not only can these tools give you some advanced warning, but they can also help you capture brand sentiment, a leading indicator. 

Need help identifying potential social media crises? Download our crisis management eBook for more tips on how social listening & media monitoring can help you spot a disaster waiting to happen. 

Step 2: Form a Cross-Departmental Crisis Response Team

Identify the key individuals who will serve as the spokespeople, liaisons, and decision-makers when a crisis hits. Your social media crisis response team will likely include individuals from all different rungs on the hierarchical ladder. 

It would be best if you aimed to create a cross-departmental unit with members from your marketing, sales, customer service, and executive leadership teams. Then once a crisis has occurred, you can more easily distribute information to your entire organization. 

Step 3: Establish a Crisis Chain of Command

When the time comes to alert your crisis response team of a real issue, there should be a transparent escalation process already outlined. This document should include the contact information for each member of the crisis response team. 

Remember, not every negative mention or review will require the attention of your crisis response team, so it's essential to discuss with your team what defines a crisis at your organization.

Step 4: Create Several Response Templates

Accurate and timely communication is key during a crisis. So, when an emergency arises, you don't want to be scrambling to create a press release template or drafting a tweet. Prepare the communications materials you believe you could need ahead of time. This is why it's important to discuss with your team what constitutes a crisis for your organization. Based on the outcome of those conversations, you can begin drafting communications material for each of the predetermined scenarios.

Step 5: Do a Practice Run

Think of this step like a fire drill in elementary school. Test out how quickly your crisis response team can assemble and whether or not the escalation procedures worked. By taking this step, you'll be able to identify—and correct—any issues that may arise. 

By taking these steps ahead of time, your organization will be better equipped to handle a crisis. Music to any communications professional's ears. Now, what steps should you take during a PR or social media crisis? 

This easy to follow checklist covers the how-tos when managing a PR or social media crisis, broken down step by step. 

What steps match your teams' current plan?