Social Media and Crisis Response:

Our guest blogger this month is Consult P3 faculty member, Jeff Brady.  Jeff is one of the trainers for Consult P3’s crisis management program called Vortex.

Jeff is a broadcast news veteran with almost 20 years of journalism experience in three states and five separate markets. He’s covered foreign wars, Presidential election campaigns, the Space Shuttle program and the Superbowl. His last eight years in TV were spent at WFAA in Dallas as an anchor and reporter. While there, he led an award-winning newscast at 5pm which dominated local ratings and served as a strong lead-in to ABC’s World News with Charlie Gibson.

Jeff recently retired from TV news to launch Brady Media Group, a Dallas-based publicity, consulting and digital content development agency. He is the founder and CEO.

YouTube is My Insurance Policy

In Chess, you can set up a fortress around your King.

In Football, you can play man-to-man to shut down your opponent’s passing effort.

In the Courtroom, an attorney can claim self-defense to fend off a Criminal Charge.

And in the modern media landscape, the best defense against an unpredicted crisis is a powerful arsenal of positive online media surrounding your brand.

What kind of online media? Anything with pertinent, positive content – tagged accurately – helps. Consider a series of short articles about your company’s unique product or service – on the website. What about a newsletter that can be archived – on your website? How about a series of short, informative videos that showcase strong customer testimonials – yep, on your website? (My personal favorite!)

All of it helps. And Social Media may be your most powerful tool – if used properly.

I know what you’re thinking…

Will online content (or content marketing) help fend off a lawsuit? Or a hailstorm? Or an investigative report by the local “I-Team”? Or an explosion on your back lot?

Of course not. But I can guarantee that it will help mitigate the resulting damage to your brand.

Why? Like it or not, your website is your front door. And all of us now access the world through search engines. Almost every buying decision begins with an online search. Maintain a good reputation on line, and your online reputation stays healthy, and you’re half-way to the sale.

These days, a crisis can be sparked by a disparaging blog entry, an impolite e-mail, or a racially-insensitive text that ends up in the wrong inbox. Never mind the traditional nightmares of an IRS audit, flood, assault, arrest, fire or bankruptcy.

So – Why Not Mount a Strong Defense NOW? As an Insurance Policy Against the PR Crisis You Cannot Predict or Prevent?

It all starts with Social Media.

Reasons to Begin Defending Yourself Now by Developing a Robust

Social Media Footprint:

  • The conversation has already begun. Your industry already has a presence in Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube or Facebook. You need to find it and join it.
  • It’s free.
  • It’s global.
  • It’s current.
  • It’s powerful.
  • It positions you (your company) as a thought leader.

I use a video blog. To discuss media and brand-building strategies, to showcase media trends, or PR opportunities with traditional or new media platforms, I will often tape a short video, upload it to our video channel and then distribute it in a monthly e-newsletter. But then, I’m a former TV news guy, so what else would you expect of me?

Podcasts are even easier. Some people like to write blogs. Some have mastered Twitter. Maybe someone in your company is a Facebook superstar. Consider them all valuable opportunities to build goodwill online before a problem ever erupts.

How to Start?

1)    Listen. Explore some of the Social Media Monitoring services that will let you find the dialogues involving your industry. What conversations are the most active? Who are the influencers?

2)    Put Your Team in Place. No, it’s not the intern’s job. Understand that the person who engages in Social Media for your brand has a powerful influence, and should be at the right hand of the boss. It’s important!

3)    Plan to React Quickly in Case of Crisis. What’s the main message? Will you need to get approval from several managers? How can you streamline the process? Keep in mind Social Media is a rapid-response medium. Think in terms of hours, not days.  Do you have a Twitter account? Facebook? What about YouTube? Do you have a video camera? Who can edit? Who knows how to post and tag content?

4)    Reach Out. Engage the most effective, articulate influencers. Join the conversation. Contribute. Comment on someone else’s Social Media space first. Offer helpful, polite, short comments.

5)    Remember it’s a Dialogue. Social Media is NOT Advertising!! Don’t imagine you can post a statement and walk away. Consider any Social Media platform a conversation, a garden, a kite in flight. It requires constant attention.

6) (MOST IMPORTANT) Develop Content NOW! Blogs aregenerally speaking – the easiest and most common platforms to develop an arsenal of pertinent, positive content. You can add photos, images or videos. Easy. Invite guest bloggers. Post press releases. Recipes. Suggestions. Quotes. Testimonials.  All of these items develop Social Media “currency” that can help when something negative pops up online.

7)    Drill. Practice your response. Dream up something really unpleasant that might be said online. And then give yourselves a few hours to respond effectively. Do it again.

The best insurance policy against a crisis that can damage your brand is a good defense. So check your insurance policy, pay your taxes, retain a great lawyer, and build up a stockpile of POSITIVE Social Media content.

Do it now.

Thank me later.