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Social Media and Crisis Communication

White Paper on the effective use of Social Media in Crisis Situations








SC Consultants
Prepared by Stephanie Capon
Crisis Communication Associate.

Report Distributed April 17, 2015

Prepared for
Clark Disney, CEO and Mark Disney, Senior Vice President, Guest Relations
Walt Disney Company.

OVERVIEW
Embracing the Technological Climate
Crisis communication is an inevitable and often arduous task for large corporations in the age of
exponential technology and instant communication. While online data is bountiful and easily accessible,
not all sources are accurate. In most cases, misinformation is negligible. However, in the event of major
crisis situations, information containment and control is pivotal.

Benefits of Social Media
Regulating the billions of Internet sources available would be a daunting, expensive, and exhausting task.
Effective use of social media:
Presents a speedy, inexpensive, and unified message to a wide audience
Mitigates the snowball effect of misinformation
Helps prevent the spread of unsavory company information

The reputation of your company is invaluable. Having a contingency plan that will address possible issues
is not an admittance of defeat but a step towards intelligent recovery.

Social Media Faux Pas
Diction and background research are a Social Media Teams greatest assets. Social network neophytes are
hesitant to engage in social media because certain tags and trending words can cause demographic-
specific backlash. However, every social media platform provides a simple method of researching
potential tags and avoiding sensitive terms.

Overview Recommendations
Internet users spend approximately 30% of their online time on social networks and many users cite
social media platforms as their primary news sources.

Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide inexpensive and instantaneous methods of
communication to millions of active users. The
impact of social networks dominates the digital
world and companies can remain up to speed
with the implementation of social media teams
and accounts. In the event of crisis
communication, social media can meet your
public relations needs.

THE CRISIS APPROACH:

Social Media Crisis Management should follow a
4-step plan:

1. Healthy Anticipation
Preemptive creation of social

media accounts allows companies to develop a large following of friends and viewers
An appointed social media team should understand the varying audiences that utilize each
social media platform (figure 1.0)
Accounts should be updated regularly to maintain viewer interest
2. Rapid Response
The social media team should quickly and briefly address a crisis situation when concrete
information becomes available
The social media team should satisfy the public with a truthful statement, especially when
the full scope of a situation is yet unknown. False claims or unfounded downplays may
worsen the situation
3. Repetition
The social media team must continually highlight company plans of action and reinforce
official public statements
4. Long-Term Recovery
Followers must be assured that the issue has been taken care of, necessary actions were
taken, and the status quo has been reestablished after the height of the crisis dwindles


SOCIAL SAVVY:

The Crisis Approach is an overarching outline for crisis communication. Best practices for implementing
the Crisis Approach include:

Mobilize Your Troops: Practice transparency within your organization. Each worker, from intern
to CEO, must know what statements are appropriate to
share.
Choose Your Words Wisely: Be sure to craft messages
so that they are short, informative, and non-
controversial. Simple background checks can eliminate
the possibility for large-scale uproar over controversial
diction.
Stay Ahead of Trends: Avoid upcoming obstacles with
the help of social media by listening to popular
complaints and concerns expressed online.
Know Your Audience: Assess the target audience on
each social media platform and respond accordingly
based on age, geography, demographics, and subject
matter. (Reference Figures 2 5)
Remain On-Call: News does not follow a designated
schedule. Prepare your team for fast-paced situations
that might require their efforts outside of the normal workday.

Effective Crisis
Communication
means knowing your
audience, knowing
how to reach them,
and having the tools
in place to quickly
provide the
information they care
about.

Create a Social Media Toolkit: Creating a one-stop-shop saves time and promotes consistency.
Pre-made press releases, statements, and social media templates eliminate the possibility of
unwanted information release.
Hire Honest Abe: A unified message across all social media platforms that satisfies interested
parties will eventually become public. Make sure that the all-encompassing last words on the
matter are yours.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
The most ideal method of crisis communication is proactive. From Fortune-500s to local businesses,
social media has become a useful marketing tool for any organization but the instant access to millions of
users provides a powerful medium of crisis containment. Social Media may highlight trending topics but
the entity of digital socialization is here to stay. By following the aforementioned outline and suggestions
for effective use, crisis communication becomes a streamlined and user-friendly process benefiting all
parties involved.

For more information contact:
Stephanie Capon
Crisis Communication Associate, SC Consultants
305.111.1117 / scapon@scconsultants.com
www.scconsultants.com
Twitter: @SC_Consultants Facebook: facebook.com/scconsultants

KEY CHANNELS
Identifying the scope of existing channels helps maximize social media use.
Figure 1.0 Social Media Comparison Infographic

FIGURES 1.2 1.5: PRIMARY SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS

2.0 FAC EB O O K D EM O G R APH IC S

4.0 IN STA G R A M D EM O G R A P H IC S

3.0 TW ITTER D EM O G R A P H IC S

5.0 LIN KED IN D EM O G R APH IC S

SOURCES

Digital Insights Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics 2013 October, 2013
FierceGovernement Correct, Dont Delete, Advises Federal Social Media Manager January 2, 2014
The Guardian Social Media, Crisis Mapping and the New Frontier in Disaster Response October 8, 2013
PR Daily Planning for a Social Media Crisis August 21, 2013
PR News The Executive Apology, Avoid Making it Worse Once Youve Already Screwed Up October 3, 2013
PRSA Social Media Anxiety: 140 Characters Into, or Out of, a Crisis August 1, 2013