PR isn’t quite as simple as it used to be. Thanks to the almost farcical activist nature and real time updating of social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and more, now everything is politicized in spontaneous hashtag campaigns. While this may be off-putting to many, the keyboard warriors of social media are simply gleeful when it comes to ruining a company’s PR over nearly any perceived transgression. However, there are things you can do to save your brand during an unexpected social media disaster. Here are some tips.
Have a Strong Brand Going In
Overall, PR disasters affect certain companies more than others. Think of it as the best defense is a good offense. If you already have a very strong brand renowned with the public for excellent products, customer service and more, you are likely to have the ability to survive some angry people shouting at you in 140 characters or less on Twitter.
Focus on Your Good Qualities
The real problem comes when your company is mostly unknown to the public at large such as is the case for newer businesses. The social media attacks may help shape the public’s perception of your brand. Try to counter that with marketing that showcases the good your company does for customers and others.
Have a Sense of Humor
One excellent way to address criticism is through humor. This may be tricky from a PR stand point. Humor can sometimes come off as condescending or arrogant if done in the wrong way. However, humor can also help humanize your company if done effectively.
Have Employees with Experience in PR
While the business owner or CEO may want to handle a PR disaster on his or her own, this is not always wise. Instead, you should have employees on hand with good experience in corporate public relations to help make the right tactical decisions to allow you to weather the storm. Choosing candidates with a degree in public relations is a great idea.
Honesty Is the Best Policy
One good piece of advice in regards to social media PR is also good advice for life in general. If the controversy is due to a genuine mistake or screw-up on your part as opposed to manufactured outrage, own up to your mistake and tell your customers you will try harder to do a better job.
As long as social media platforms like Twitter stay popular, PR dustups will continue to happen randomly to many companies. Just make sure you are prepared for this almost certain eventuality.
Author: Anita Ginsburg is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She enjoys writing about business for institutions like Kent State University, which offers degrees like a master’s degree public relations.