"Crisis Communications and Social Media" - Jim Rettew (The Red Cross) - 2009 AIM Conference


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Apartment community disasters are big, public news events in which residents, media, government and relief organizations are all looking to the communications leadership of the apartment owner.

Jim Rettew, Chief Communications Officer for the American Red Cross, Mile High Chapter will discuss the use of social media for crisis communications in an multifamily emergency situation.

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"Crisis Communications and Social Media" - Jim Rettew (The Red Cross) - 2009 AIM Conference

  1. 1. Crisis Communication & Social Media Jim Rettew, Chief Communications Officer American Red Cross Mile High Chapter May 1, 2009
  2. 2. Question… <ul><li>How many spokespeople does your apartment company/complex have? </li></ul><ul><li>Answer: As many residents, employees, friends, family members, suppliers, colleagues, and associates of your business…that’s how many. </li></ul>
  3. 3. First Things First <ul><li>How many of you have a written crisis communication plan? (or even a crisis plan?) </li></ul><ul><li>If you don’t have a communication plan, social media won’t help you. </li></ul><ul><li>You’ll just have more areas to screw up. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Fundamentals of a Crisis Comm Plan <ul><li>Situational Awareness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s going on? Where? When? Who? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Operations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who’s in charge? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who says what? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Message Development </li></ul><ul><li>Victim Management </li></ul><ul><li>Afterwards…how to rebuild trust and credibility. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Crisis Comm Nuts and Bolts <ul><li>1. Phone/E-mail List – Disseminate an emergency list with phone numbers, </li></ul><ul><li>2. Perform annual communication audit and Strength Weakness Opportunity and Threat (SWOT) analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Media Training – Identify and train organization spokespeople. </li></ul><ul><li>4. Crisis Management Checklist – Update the Crisis Communication Checklist for staff to have with them at work and at home, including crisis procedures, policies regarding media inquiries, communication priorities and best means to reach the crisis manager. </li></ul><ul><li>5. Key Audience and Media List – Keep contact information for key audiences updated so that they can be easily contacted in a crisis. </li></ul><ul><li>6. Key Messages – Spokespeople should be familiar with organization’s key messages. At the time of crisis, relevant messages will be created by the Crisis Communications Team. </li></ul><ul><li>7. Pre-approved Statements – Responses for common media inquiries should be created and approved by the board as necessary. </li></ul><ul><li>8. Emergency Personnel – Maintain contact information for police, fire, hospitals, the health department, utilities and paramedics. Make sure staff know how to access the information. </li></ul><ul><li>9. Off Site Alternatives – Determine a location to convene and/or from which to stage communications if the crisis situation prevents staff from getting to or using the office. </li></ul><ul><li>10. Equipment – Identify resources necessary prior to a crisis including extra cell phones, computers, etc. Determine how that equipment would be gathered and who would be responsible for operation. </li></ul><ul><li>11. Drill Session – At least quarterly, review and practice crisis communications plan. </li></ul>
  6. 6. So Why Pay Attention to Social Media? <ul><li>It can start a crisis. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Brands that Got Punk’d by Social Media <ul><li>Dominos </li></ul><ul><li>Wholefoods CEO trashing competition online </li></ul><ul><li>Dell laptop catches fire on YouTube </li></ul><ul><li>AOL recording not letting customers cancel </li></ul>
  8. 8. Dominos <ul><li>“ We got blindsided by two idiots with a video camera and an awful idea,” said a Domino’s spokesman, Tim McIntyre. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Even people who’ve been with us as loyal customers for 10, 15, 20 years, people are second-guessing their relationship with Domino’s.” NYT </li></ul>
  9. 9. Here’s what could happen to you… <ul><li>Fire </li></ul><ul><li>Explosion </li></ul><ul><li>Government investigation </li></ul><ul><li>Controversial law suit </li></ul><ul><li>Accusation of discrimination based on race, sexual preference or gender </li></ul><ul><li>Product recall </li></ul><ul><li>Serious injury to someone within or outside of the organization </li></ul><ul><li>Protest </li></ul><ul><li>Strike </li></ul><ul><li>Physical violence between co-workers </li></ul><ul><li>Illegal workers booked by INS </li></ul><ul><li>Theft by an outsider (ideas or physical assets) </li></ul><ul><li>Embezzlement </li></ul><ul><li>Hostile takeover </li></ul><ul><li>Outbreak of food poisoning caused by your company (maybe even at your company picnic) </li></ul><ul><li>Death of top executive </li></ul><ul><li>CEO gets arrested for drunk driving </li></ul><ul><li>Natural disaster </li></ul><ul><li>Plane crash </li></ul><ul><li>Stolen credit card data </li></ul><ul><li>Books were cooked </li></ul><ul><li>Major interruptions in service </li></ul><ul><li>Computer system crash, causing you to lose all data </li></ul><ul><li>One of your employees is accused of a high profile crime </li></ul><ul><li>Sexual harassment case </li></ul><ul><li>Rape on your premises </li></ul><ul><li>Dramatic downsizing causing significant job loss in a geographic region </li></ul><ul><li>Chemical spill </li></ul><ul><li>Radiation leak </li></ul><ul><li>A major competitor has a huge crisis, throwing attention on your company </li></ul><ul><li>Caught in a lie </li></ul><ul><li>False advertising accusation </li></ul><ul><li>Celebrity spokesperson embroiled in personal scandal </li></ul><ul><li>Closing of a facility </li></ul><ul><li>Production sourcing internationally or at a non-union facility </li></ul><ul><li>Union grievance </li></ul><ul><li>And, of course, alien abduction of your entire management team </li></ul>
  10. 10. Why Pay Attention to Social Media? <ul><li>It can start a crisis. </li></ul><ul><li>It can fuel a crisis. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Dominos Bad Word-of-Mouth Skyrocketed
  12. 12. Why Pay Attention to Social Media? <ul><li>It can start a crisis. </li></ul><ul><li>It can fuel a crisis. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s effective at informing people in a crisis. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Informing – California Wildfires 2007 <ul><li>Of the 307 people surveyed affected by the fires… </li></ul><ul><li>A majority (54 percent) indicated they used mobile phones to contact friends or family to get tactical information about the fires (road closures and fire line status) </li></ul><ul><li>A significant majority (76 percent) consulted information portals and websites. </li></ul><ul><li>Just like you wouldn’t ignore TV, radio, or print; online communication is the fourth table leg in any plan. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Other Benefits of Social Media <ul><li>Decrease the demand from the media. </li></ul><ul><li>Manage communications remotely. </li></ul><ul><li>Influence the message. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct connection to the public </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No media filter </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Quick implementation. </li></ul>
  15. 15. How is Social Media A Different Animal?
  16. 16. What is Traditional PR? <ul><li>“Public relations is the practice of managing the flow of information between organizations and the public.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Managing Public Relations, by James Grunig and Todd Hunt. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Traditionally, PR practitioner try to function as gatekeepers of information. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>USED TO BE all about control </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. But You’re Too Late! <ul><li>The discussion is already out there. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Now, Social Media puts the ‘Public’ Back in PR <ul><li>Social Media is less about… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One-way communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Control </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hierarchy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>News reporters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spin </li></ul></ul><ul><li>… and more about…. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Two-way communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Influence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Findability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Authenticity </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. The Conversation is a Two-Way Street <ul><li>TV, Radio, Print – one-way communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Top down approach. We are always the audience. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social Media Online </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactivity – the audience is also the author </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>User-generated content </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Spurs community and commitment </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>In this environment, you no longer have complete control. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But what you can do is… </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Influence: the Real Currency of the Cloud… <ul><li>Ideally, You Want Good Buzz </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Which comes from discussion… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Which comes from people… </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Who are swayed by influence. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Influence does not equal spin! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Its more subtle… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Think Nancy Drew </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s about leaving clues so people can follow your breadcrumbs. </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Breadcrumbs = Findability <ul><li>How can people find you? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What do you want them to find? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are you making that easy or hard? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why do they want to find you? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How can people find discussions about you? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are those discussion? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s not being discussed? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who is talking about you? </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. OK, I’m Convinced. What Should I Do? <ul><li>Track Everything </li></ul><ul><li>Participate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>silence is not golden </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be Proactive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(even preventative!) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be Authentic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(even apologize!) </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. #1. Track Everything <ul><li>Google Alerts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google.com/alerts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Google Blog Search </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogsearch.google.com </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Twitter Search </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Search.twitter.com </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Filtrbox.com </li></ul><ul><li>TrackUR.com ($18/month) </li></ul>
  24. 24. Google “I Hate (insert your company).” <ul><li>Search for keywords related to your business. </li></ul><ul><li>This includes adding a combination of the following criteria in your search process: - &quot;product+sucks&quot; - &quot;company+sucks&quot; - &quot;die+company&quot; - &quot;i+hate+company&quot; </li></ul>
  25. 25. #2. Participate <ul><li>Blogs </li></ul><ul><li>Podcasts </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook </li></ul><ul><li>MySpace </li></ul><ul><li>LinkedIn </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>Flickr </li></ul><ul><li>Wikis </li></ul><ul><li>Yelp </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Builds relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increases findability </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Silence isn’t Golden <ul><li>These conversations are taking place with or without you, so ignoring them only eliminates you from the conversation and also removes your company from the radar screens of your customers. </li></ul>
  27. 27. #3. Be Proactive! <ul><li>Many potential crises are avoidable through proactive listening, engagement, response, conversation, humbleness, and transparency (rinse & repeat). </li></ul>
  28. 28. Be Proactive!...even Preventative! <ul><li>Diffuse visible but not yet large-scale predicaments before they're full-blown public crises. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make a plan </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Know the social media landscape </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Become a participant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Train for a crisis </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. #4. Be Authentic <ul><li>Social media world values and expects honesty, integrity, and transparency. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t pay for good reviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t lie or cover-up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t spin </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Example: Bindeez Crisis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Defensive / Legal: “We are investigating the allegations. At this time, we are not admitting any wrongdoing and have been told not to comment further.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Authentic: “As parents and grandparents ourselves, we are horrified by this incident.” </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Apologize <ul><li>A simple, honest apology (without taking legal blame) can defuse the most volatile situation, often averting a communications crisis. </li></ul>
  31. 31. Do’s and Don’ts <ul><li>DON’T go into crisis mode on every customer complaint. </li></ul><ul><li>DO engage. “Hey, I saw your post and wanted to find out what you can tell me.” Don’t offer any speculation or opinion, just gather information until you can find the original source of the problem. </li></ul><ul><li>DON’T get dragged into an argument, or a back-and-forth debate about who is right. </li></ul><ul><li>DO create a central news and resources page if the crisis is serious. Direct all traffic through various social networks, blogs and news sites back to your resource page. </li></ul><ul><li>DO enlist regular PR tactics and traditional media. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Things You Could Start Today… <ul><li>Create a blog that posts all emergency notices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google, Wordpress, etc </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wiki: let stakeholders collaborate and share information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wetpaint.com </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Facebook: create a page to form a community </li></ul><ul><li>Tweet! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Twitter.com </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Acquire emails , Facebook links, and Twitter IDs like you would phone numbers </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare a ‘dark site’ (crisis web page ready to go) </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage honest feedback on Yelp </li></ul><ul><li>Set up your own Flickr group with pictures YOU want to share </li></ul>
  33. 33. Social Media Dash Board
  34. 34. Take-aways <ul><li>Old “gatekeeper” model is dead </li></ul><ul><li>It’s about influence, not control </li></ul><ul><li>People are talking. Are you participating? </li></ul><ul><li>Leave breadcrumbs so you’re findable </li></ul><ul><li>Be proactive </li></ul><ul><li>Be authentic </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be the next Dominos case study </li></ul>
  35. 35. Jim Rettew <ul><li>American Red Cross Mile High Chapter </li></ul><ul><li>Chief Communications Officer </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>303-607-4768 </li></ul>