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Crisis Media Monitoring - 15 Mar 17

Crisis Media Monitoring - 15 Mar 17

Combatting crisis with media monitoring

In the age of social media, where almost everyone has access to a connected device and the ability to broadcast their opinion to a vast audience, the threat of an online or social media crisis is a very real possibility.

This kind of crisis is particularly unsettling, due to the fact that it can strike at any time and has the ability to spread like wildfire within a few short hours. It usually starts with a post from a disgruntled customer, or even a seemingly innocent post from an employee.

Since social media doesn’t allow users to create much context, other users will usually fill in the blanks. The recent massive waves at Durban’s Promenade is a prime example. Users posted videos of these large waves rolling inland, which other users shared on their profiles. It didn’t take long for the first person to use the word “tsunami.” From this example, we can see how quickly a state of panic can be induced by not supplying enough context.

The good news is that social media also has the power and ability to avoid or control a crisis. If used correctly, it can be one of, if not the most powerful communication tools a brand has at its disposal. The question is; how does one use it?

First and most important step in the right direction is to employ a media monitoring tool. It is impossible for a team of people to constantly monitor everything said about any given brand. The sheer scale of the task is impossible, and that’s just during normal working hours. Who will keep an eye on the chatter after hours?

Media monitoring will pick up every single post and the sentiment attached to it. In order to avoid a crisis, you need to know whether the sentiment in a post is positive or negative, and whether it has the potential to kick-start a crisis.

The best way to prevent and/or manage a crisis is to have access to the right figures. Media monitoring will be able to supply you with the volume and sentiment attached to a topic. A new vehicle launch, for example, will likely result in a massive influx of posts with positive feedback, while a crisis will present in the same way, but with negative sentiment attached to the brand’s name.

By noticing an influx of negative comments and then looking into what caused said comments, one would have a greater understanding of why it happened and how to react appropriately before the situation escalates further and reaches crisis proportions.

The second step in managing a crisis is simply having a plan and a dedicated team that will work on that plan if the worst happens.

As one cannot plan for every eventuality, it’s sufficient to have a rough outline of a crisis media strategy. It is, however, imperative to have the right team in charge of the strategy.

The perfect crisis management team should consist of members of the public relations team, a liaison from the marketing department, an in-house legal expert and a dedicated spokesperson to deliver all messages. As the situation will likely be tense, the dedicated spokesperson should be able to keep calm under pressure.

The communication channels will depend on the specific crisis. The obvious first step in communicating after an event is to choose the message and the audience you want to reach, but it’s just as relevant to choose the means of delivering said message.

At this point one might want to take a step back and celebrate, but it’s worth keeping an eye out on the situation. The media monitoring system will continue to keep an eye on the situation, and the feedback on the volume and sentiment will be able to tell you whether the crisis management strategy worked. Even if it has worked, it’s worth keeping an open channel of communication, possibly adapting the message slightly after receiving initial feedback.

Any crisis deserves to be analysed, and it’s no different with an online or social media crisis. With all the relevant information supplied via media monitoring, one should be able to look at where the situation started and how it could possibly be avoided in the future.


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