Social media has become an integral part of the business world, and in its short life we’ve already created many rules for how it should be used. While many of them are debatable, this one, from a Social Media Examiner article, stands true for all:
Provide value. That’s it. In social media it’s all too easy to unfollow, unfriend or unsubscribe from someone who’s not providing value. Every tweet, status update, blog post, video, or check-in should provide value to your audience.
Value means different things to different people. Your value may be in creating thought leadership blog posts. It might be in always posting links to great resources. Or it might be creating irreverent, sarcastic or even off-color commentary on what’s going on in your audience’s lives. The key is to just keep providing that value to your audience.
By providing value, people will be more apt to follow and listen to what you say. The result of this is that when it comes time to use social media for PR, marketing, or crisis management your audience will be ready and waiting.
Reputation management is like farting in an elevator: The more time you spend on an elevator, the more likely you are to make your neighbors’ eyes water. And the more time your brand is online, the more likely it is that you’ll find yourself in a reputation management pickle.
Successful reputation management is about being prepared to deal with this inevitable pickle. With a solid plan in place, stakeholders’ concerns can be addressed quickly and efficiently in whatever arena they were voiced, hopefully not only solving that individuals issue but also garnering positive attention from others. While preventing their eyes from watering.
Oil giant BP has been blasted from one corner of the Internet to the other, not to mention the thousands of traditional media reports covering their poor performance following the Gulf oil spill. In a recent BusinessInsurance.com article, several PR professionals were asked what went wrong with BP’s plan (or lack thereof), including BCM President Jonathan Bernstein, who had this to say:
“BP is crisis planning on the fly,” Mr. Bernstein said. “It’s clear that they didn’t have a crisis response plan in place before this happened, even though this is something that is predictable in their line of work and that is inexcusable.”
Perhaps further compounding the problem is BP’s failure to bring in outside help early on in the process, Mr. Bernstein said, adding that if the company had an adequate crisis plan in place, one of the steps would have been to bring in the top five experts in the field, get them on-site and then “brag” about the fact that they have the top people working on the job.
When trouble rears its ugly head, it quickly becomes clear whether an organization has prepared a crisis management plan or not. In BP’s case, failing to plan for a tragic but predictable crisis has caused damage to its reputation and the environment that the company will be battling for years to come.
When ABC7′s Dan Noyes headed out to cover a public Laguna Honda Hospital meeting as part of a controversial investigative report he may well have expected to encounter resistance. What he found, though, surprised even the experienced reporter.
In just over three minutes, Laguna Honda Chief of Community Relations Marc Slavin single-handedly created a crisis management nightmare. His actions, which were recorded by both television cameras and cellular phone, and swiftly published to YouTube, have not only sullied his organization’s reputation but elevated the local-level story of Laguna Honda’s alleged misuse of funds to national prominence.
The good news? We’ll be able to use this as a “what not to do” example in our media training sessions for years to come!
Preparing for the worst while hoping for the best is a core philosophy of crisis preparedness.
Unfortunately, because of the Internet, the “worst” keeps getting…worse.
The latest example is the site WikiLeaks, which takes the notion of the I-Reporter to a whole new level. A quote from the Washington Post explains:
For an organization dedicated to exposing secrets, WikiLeaks keeps a close hold on its own affairs. Its Web site doesn’t list a street address or phone number, or the names of key officers. Officially, it has no employees, headquarters or even a post office box.
Yet, about 30 times a day, someone submits a sensitive document to this cyber-whistleblower to be posted online for all to see. Politicians’ private e-mails, secret CIA reports, corporate memos, surveillance video — all have been fair game.
With the popularity of Web reporting continuing to grow and the stunning number of cameras and recording devices found on the average person, organizations absolutely must prepare crisis management plans that anticipate their darkest secrets being exposed to a worldwide audience.