Skills Building: Crisis Communications

Today, I’m continuing our skills building series in which I discuss different techniques, trends and tips in specific communications functions. This week I’ll be focusing on crisis communications and the do’s and don’t’s of social media as a part of a crisis communications plan. When your social media accounts are being bombarded with complains or negative comments, here are some tactics to consider:

Don’t censor
If you’re receiving criticism via your Twitter or Facebook page, it can be tempting to remove the comments and come up with a plan. However, for customers or clients, this can be frustrating and can lead to harsher comments. Unless it violates a community guideline, keep it up. Clients and customers want to know that companies have accountability, so accepting criticism and being willing to acknowledge those who are upset is part of gaining the trust of people interacting with your company. It’s tempting to remove negative comments, but it’ll only hurt you in the long run.

Use a human voice
Companies can seem like impenetrable entities to people, which is why social media can be a helpful tool for establishing connections. Ease up on your corporate tone on your Twitter, especially when responding to tweets during crisis communications. Canned responses or inter-company jargon can be a turn-off to customers. Instead, make it clear that it’s a human being running the account and that they are individually reading complaints and committed to responding to them. In a PRNews article, they advise to respond in a “personal, polite and professional [tone.] Never respond in a dismissive or impolite manner. It will only add fuel to the fire.”

Update your website
During a crisis, people are going to be going to your website to get current information. Make sure it’s available for them. “Websites and social media platforms need to updated 24/7.” Anticipate that need and give it to them. Don’t be afraid to diversify the copy based on the channel you’re using. What you have on your website might not be the proper tone for your Twitter or Facebook page. Adjust accordingly.