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Social Media Crisis
Communications
for PR people
A no-nonsense guide to
crisis communications and
social media for PR people



Dr Paul Marsden
Social Psychologist
Social Media Strategy
http://viralculture.com
2




 “If you lose money for
 the firm I will be
 understanding. If you
 lose reputation I will be
 ruthless.”
            Warren Buffett




“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes
to ruin it.”  Warren Buffett
3




Crisis communications is a core function of PR...
4




Social media can help us do crisis communications
better, faster and more cost-effectively
5




Better crisis communications with social media - more
useful, more responsive, more direct
6




Faster crisis communications with social media -
immediate distribution, real-time updates
7




More cost-effective crisis communications with social
media - self-publishing, inexpensive/free tools
8




But social media can also trigger and facilitate crises
9




Social media can trigger crises by causing crises
themselves or by giving a voice to unheard detractors
10




Social media can facilitate crises by agenda setting and
helping detractors to self-organise against you
11




So crisis communications teams need to know how to
use and deal with social media
12




        Four Essential Tools            Four Point Plan


    Wordpress (social media CMS)         Manage Issues


            Twitter page                 Plan & Prevent


          Facebook page                 Crisis Response


          YouTube channel             Post-Crisis Response




So here are four tools you’ll need and a simple four point
plan for effective PR crisis comms with social media
13




The plan is built on the practical, tried-and-tested, peer-
reviewed online crisis communications plan from IBM
14




The Crisis Comms Toolbox: You’ll need Wordpress - your
social media CMS hub from which you will communicate
15




The Crisis Comms Toolbox: You’ll need a Twitter page -
to auto-post links to news updates and answer queries
16




The Crisis Comms Toolbox: You’ll need a Facebook page
- to auto-post links to news updates and answer queries
17




The Crisis Comms Toolbox: You’ll need a YouTube
channel to host and post video news updates
18


Setting up and connecting up your crisis comms toolbox

                 Wordpress                         Wordpress Training: wp101.com,
                  ‘Hub’                               wordpress.tv. lynda.com


  Platform
  ‘Spokes’


  Wordpress: Download the free Wordpress CMS from wordpress.org and do the
  famous 5 minute install into a directory on your website - follow video training

  Facebook - link your Facebook page to your Wordpress pages via a free service
  such as Networked Blogs

  Twitter - link your Twitter page to you Wordpress pages via a free service such
  as Feedburner

  YouTube - create a YouTube channel to manually post any video news for you to
  embed on your Wordpress pages
19




1. Issues Management
20


Issues Management & Social Media (Overview)

  Assigning Resources

  Establishing Alert System

  Mapping Influencers

  Priortising Focus

  Engaging with Social Media

  Thinking Globally

  Drawing up Guidelines

  Training the Team
21


Issues Management: Assigning Resources

  Assign resources – human, economic and technological – to
  social media issues management. Consider whether an external
  agency or service can be of help

     Get senior management buy-in to the importance of crisis
     communications and social media and secure resources

     Assign responsibility for social media issues management
     internally or to an agency, and allocate time

     Assign budget for crisis communications with social media,
     including issues management

     Empower whoever is responsible for social media issues to
     act independently and immediately

     JET (Just Enough Technology) Update infrastructure by
     installing Wordpress (social media CMS) on your website
22


Issues Management: Establishing Alert System

  Establish an efficient social media monitoring alert system to add
  to your online news monitoring solution

      Set up a social media ‘listening post’ and use as an early
      warning system for issues as well as insight generator

      JET (just enough technology) solution - use free Google
      alerts and Twitter search alerts to monitor social media

      Consider paid social media monitoring services

      Set alerts for your organisation, as well as key issues,
      personnel and brands mentioned with your organisation

      Manually monitor your Wikipedia page entries

      Produce a weekly management summary of mentions and
      sentiment in social media
23


Issues Management: Mapping influencers

  Draw a full map of social media influencers (bloggers, journalists
  who publish in social media, group, page and forum moderators)
  noting their issues of interest or concern

      Do a Google and Twitter search for key issues and your
      organisation and industry to identify leading social media
      voices

      Generate a social media contact list, listing their name, sites
      and issues that interest or concern them

      Subscribe to their content

      Begin building relationships by commenting on their content
24


Issues Management: Prioritising focus

  Prioritise your focus based on issues - on their probability of
  occurrence and their possible impact on the organisation

      List the top 10 possible events that could occur that would
      carry the most reputational risk to your organisation

      Score each out of 10 in terms of it’s likelihood of occurrence
      (0 not at all likely, 10 extremely likely) (= a)

      Score each out of 10 in terms of severity of impact on your
      organisation’s reputation (= b)

      Multiply a x b, and rank issues by score. Prioritise issues
      management activities by score
25


Issues Management: Engaging with social media

  Consider starting a corporate blog to engage with social media
  users well before a crisis situation arises

      Install Wordpress in a folder on your site, and use as your
      social media news room - inviting comments, sharing and
      discussion

      Communicate on your blog in an appropriate social media
      style - social, conversational, realtime, multimedia, mobile,
      search-engine optimised

      Consider video-blogging with interviews and Q&As with
      staff, publish on blog and to your YouTube channel

      Automatically syndicate your posts to your Facebook and
      Twitter pages (feedburner / networked blogs)
26


Issues Management: Thinking globally

  Think globally. Any local issue can today easily evolve, through
  social media, into a regional or a global crisis.

      An upset customer flapping their arms in a far off land can
      cause a Tsunami where you are - think global, act global
27


Issues Management: Drawing up guidelines

  Draw up guidelines on the approach, tone, and language that is
  appropriate for dialogue in a dynamic, social media environment.
  This will be quite different from the more formal and distant
  corporate tone and language used in traditional
  communications. Adapt communication by making it:

      ‘Social’ by enabling social interaction and sharing,
      ‘Conversational’ - informal and brief in style, ‘Real-time’ - live
      and on demand, ‘Multimedia’ - with images, video and
      sound, ‘Mobile’ - handset-friendly and location-aware,
      ‘Findable’ - using search terms people use

      Create organisation-wide social media guidelines, who - as
      employee - can publish what, where and when in social
      media - specifically referencing issue priorities (see appendix
      for template). Get senior management sign off, publish on
      your intranet, conduct training as necessary
28


Issues Management: Training

  Train the team. Become familiar with how issues develop in
  social media

      Review social media issues management cases, and know
      you’d respond (see social media crisis timeline in appendix))

      Know how to and “speak” in social media and understand
      the 6 principles - social, conversational, realtime,
      multimedia, mobile, search-engine optimised

      Learn how to use the four key social media communication
      tools - Wordpress, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

      Know when to respond and when to ignore social media
      content (see next)

      Run regular scenario training using an internal training blog
29


 Issues Management: Training

                                                                                                   Take reasonable
                                                                                           Yes    action to fix issue
                              Positive                Negative                                     and let customer
                                                                                                  know action taken
         No     Do you want              Assess the          Evaluate the                                   Yes
                 to respond               message              purpose
                                                                                                   Does customer
                                                                                                    need/deserve
                                                                                                     more info?
                Can you add                                       Unhappy    Are the facts
No response
                  value?                                         customer?     correct?
              Yes             No
                                                                                                  Gently correct the
                                                                      No                   No           facts

         Respond in      Thank the                            Dedicated      Are the facts
       kind and share     person                             complainer?       correct?             No

                                                                      No             Yes

                                                                                                    Explain what is
                                                              Comedian       Is the problem Yes
                                                                                                    being done to
                                                             want-to-be?      being fixed?
                                                                                                   correct the issue

                                                                      Yes           No
Adapted from US Airforce                                                                          Let post stand and
                                                                                                       monitor
30




Planning & Prevention
31


Planning and Prevention & Social Media (Overview)

  Creating your Situation Room           Evaluating capabilities

  Putting together Rapid Response Team   Engaging specialists

  Updating Contacts                      Testing the plan

  Assigning Responsibilities

  Testing Monitoring Real-time

  Planning how to Respond

  Creating a ‘dark’ Crisis Blog

  Registering at-risk Domains

  Identifying Allies
32


Planning and Prevention: Creating your Situation Room

  Consider developing your crisis manual online: it is easier to
  update and maintain than hard-copy, and it offers the possibility
  to include links to multiple sources of information and
  databases. It also allows communications actions such as e-mail
  distribution and point-and-click distribution of press materials

      Use a passworded Wordpress pages on your site, or install
      Wordpress on your Intranet

      Consider using these pages as your internal ‘situation room’
      to be used by crisis management team members to obtain
      internal information related to the crisis, guidelines, plans,
      news reports, statements, contact information, etc.
33


Planning and Prevention: Putting together the team

  Put together your rapid response crisis communications team
  and assign responsibilities

     Who will have overall responsibility - ensure they are
     empowered to act fast and autonomously in a crisis?

     Who will fulfil the communications tasks?

         Internal (Senior management, and staff)

         External (Publishing news updates on social media properties,
         Influencer Outreach (Bloggers/Journalists), Responding to
         comments and queries in social media)

     Ensure you have contact details of all rapid response
     comms team members, and ensure they understand it is a
     24/7 responsibility
34


Planning and Prevention: Updating contacts

  Update e-mailing lists, contact databases and site directories

      Email lists - rapid response team, staff, influencers

      Contact databases - rapid response team, staff, influencers

      Site directories - key sites to monitor during crisis
35


Planning and Prevention: Assigning responsibilities

  Decide who will be able to publish what, where and how during
  a crisis, and get sign-off

     How will your social media policy change in the event of a
     crisis? Consider only allowing crisis team to publish

     How will marketing communications change in the event of
     a crisis? Consider pausing any marketing messages
36


Planning and Prevention: Testing monitoring real-time

  Check whether the regular media monitoring service is fast
  enough to follow the crisis, especially for online media outlets.

      Can your traditional and social media monitoring report on a
      half daily or even hourly basis?
37


Planning and Prevention: Planning if/when to respond

  Draft guidelines to respond quickly to web-based rumours

     Use the social media response plan to decide whether to
     respond

     Respond when rumour source is influential, has a large
     online readership

     If you can’t provide clarity or help, do not respond

     Be courteous, human and helpful - but do not debate, point
     people instead to your own site for the response

     Rumours spread when there is an informational vacuum,
     informational ambiguity, and a lack of informational authority,
     so provide clear authoritative and helpful information to quell
     rumours
38


Planning and Prevention: Creating a crisis blog

  Create hidden or ‘dark’ blog on your web-site to be used in case
  of a crisis to update all constituencies about the issue

      Use your Wordpress directory to create a crisis blog (web-
      log) that can be made visible in the event of a crisis. Have a
      web agency do this for you if necessary

      Create a pre-formatted page template, with an area for
      news, key contacts, useful links and resources and get sign
      off from senior management prior to any crisis

      Use Google adwords to build list of keywords (negative and
      positive) to use in the crisis blog for SEO/SEM (Search
      Engine Optimisation/Search Engine Marketing)

      Assign budget for promoting your crisis blog with SEM
      (Google ads)
39


Planning and Prevention: Registering at-risk domains

  Register domain names, including those with negative
  connotations, that could be hijacked by activist groups

      CompanyNameDisaster.com/net/org

      CompanyNameSucks.com/net/org

      SueCompanyName.com/net/org

      CompanyNameFail.com/net/org
40


Planning and Prevention: Identifying allies

  Identify relevant third-party organisations and individuals (e.g.,
  bloggers) that could act as allies and can provide a balanced
  view in the case of a negative audience debate. Engage with
  them in advance.

      Use the fruits of your influencer outreach activity in Issues
      Management to identify and engage with friendly third-
      parties
41


Planning and Prevention: Evaluating capabilities

  Evaluate your in-house capabilities to develop graphic, video,
  and audio files that could be quickly distributed online, whether
  they are simple digital pictures or more elaborate podcasts.
  Purchase the necessary equipment or think about outsourcing
  these services.

      Ensure you have a digital video camera, regular digital
      camera and audio recorder, and know how to use it

      Know how to use basic media editing software (iPhoto,
      iMovie, Audacity)

      If outsourcing, contact providers and purchase emergency
      media production capabilities
42


Planning and Prevention: Engaging specialists

  Consider whether you need your traditional PR firm to do online
  PR and social media or you need to hire a separate PR firm or
  partner.

     Ask to see the crisis communications plan of your traditional
     PR firm (their own, not what they sell) to evaluate their
     capabilities
43


Planning and Prevention: Testing the plan

  Test the crisis plan.

      Scramble your rapid response communications team out of
      hours at least once a year and run an extending training
      scenario. Debrief the team on what they did, and discuss
      what they could do better.
44




Crisis
45


Crisis & Social Media (Overview)

  Scrambling the Team

  Monitoring in Real-time

  Going Public

  Updating Staff

  Getting Visibility

  Reaching Out

  Showing a Human Face
46


Crisis: Scrambling the team

  Scramble your Rapid Response Crisis Communications team,
  and alert senior management to the crisis that is unfolding

     Ensure everybody is present, in contact with each other and
     knows what they need to do
47


Crisis: Monitoring in real-time

  Ensure monitoring services are aware of the crisis situation and
  that they report electronically all outcomes as they appear

      Before responding, use monitoring data to understand how
      people are responding to the situation, what is being said
      and why
48


Crisis: Going public

  Go public as soon as possible by making your crisis blog visible
  with latest information, updates and instructions

      Place an obvious link to your crisis blog on your home page
      as soon as possible

      Keep information true, helpful and brief. Explain how you
      are resolving the situation. Respond to legitimate questions
      honestly - this is not the time for PR spin.

      Acknowledge the emotional dimension of the situation “We
      understand/realise this is frustrating, confusing...”

      Update crisis blog regularly, at least every hour in acute
      phase of crisis, confirming when the next update will come

      Update blog with links to reputable third-party sites or
      people who are favourably covering the issue.
49


Crisis: Updating staff

  Update staff on the situation, and on any changes to traditional
  and social media communications during the crisis

      Keep staff updated as a matter of priority, and ensure they
      are aware of the crisis blog

      As appropriate advise a temporary black-out on marketing
      communications, social media and PR during the crisis
50


Crisis: Getting visibility

   Use search engine marketing (Google Ads) and search engine
   optimisation (using search words) to improve the visibility of your
   crisis blog.

       Buy Google search display ads for search terms related to
       the event, linking to your crisis blog

       Use search words, even if unflattering (Eurostarfail) in the title
       and copy of your news updates increase Google visibility
51


Crisis: Reaching out

  Reach out to key social media contacts (bloggers, journalists,
  page/forum moderators) by email and text with a personal
  message and a latest update, pointing them to your crisis blog

      Respond to their queries as a matter of priority

      Link to any favourable coverage as a result of the outreach
52


Crisis: Showing a human face

  Get CEOs to personally address visitors to your crisis blog (post,
  video post)

      Give your organisation a human face with an interview or
      post

      Record any media interviews and post transcripts to your
      crisis blog
53




Post Crisis
54


Post-Crisis (Overview)

  Tracking & Monitoring

  Thanking Everyone

  Updating Content

  Rebuilding Reputation

  Evaluating Actions
55


Post-Crisis: Tracking and monitoring

  Continue tracking the issue by monitoring social and traditional
  online media, during the months – and even years – to come

      Update the keywords you monitor to include those related to
      the event

      Continue to respond to legitimate questions and anxieties by
      showing what - practically you have done, and are
      continuing to do to put it right

      Be truthful, be compassionate, move on
56


Post-Crisis: Thanking everyone

  Thank those who helped the organisation during the crisis. From
  a social media point of view, this could include ‘thank you’ posts
  on blogs, through contact forms or personal e-mail messages

      Your colleagues

      Your team

      Your customers - for their understanding

      Third-party bloggers and journalists

      Your investors - for their support
57


Post-Crisis: Updating content

  Update the company’s online properties appropriately, editing or
  updating any legacy content

      Don’t try and rewrite the past, you can’t

      Consider leaving your crisis blog online with a public thank
      you to your customers and to all those that helped

      Update your company’s Wikipedia page to acknowledge the
      incident
58


Post-Crisis: Rebuilding reputation

  Define the strategies and tactics at play to rebuild the company’s
  reputation: from in-depth analysis of online content and opinion
  leaders, to online chats with the most active bloggers.

      Understand how your reputation has been damaged and
      what you need to do to repair it

      Know that it’s actions not words that will repair your
      reputation - so put it right
59


Post-Crisis: Evaluating actions

  Evaluate what happened and how the organisation responded,
  so that the crisis plan and all the online-related measures could
  be properly adapted.

      Run a debrief session with all parties involved to find out you
      can learn from the event to improve your crisis
      communications
60




                         DR PAUL MARSDEN
                             SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGIST
                            SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
                                   LONDON

                           PAUL@VIRALCULTURE.COM
                               @MARSATTACKS
                               +44 777 95 77 248




I’ll look forward to helping you apply the plan in the ‘Social
Media for PR People’ course. Enjoy. Share. Profit.
61




Social Media Crisis Timeline



                               Source: SMI
62


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  September 2004 A Kryptonite lock is picked apart by a blogger
  with a Bic pen. First blogs, then the New York Times amplify the
  feat as the company fails to respond. Social Relevance: Viral
  effect costs $15 million in product recalls.

  June 2005 L’Oreal is skinned alive by the first big fake blog
  fiasco Social Relevance: The first demonstration that flashy
  advertising values don’t work in social media.

  August 2005 Jeff Jarvis invents “angry blogger slams customer
  service syndrome”. Hundreds of others blog about similar
  shoddy Dell customer service. Social Relevance: Dell is one of
  the first companies to learn that, in social media, you ignore your
  customers at your peril.
63


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  April 2006 Chevy’s Design your own Tahoe competition loses its
  big end to crowdsourced complaints. Social Relevance: A big
  brand learns first-hand it has no control when it comes to social
  media marketing.

  June 2006 Dell’s reputation goes up in smoke after leading tech
  blog Gizmodo publishes photo of exploding laptop. Social
  Relevance: The power of a single image that spreads online. Dell
  forced to recall more than 4 million laptop batteries.

  June 2006 Diet Coke and Mentos – Who knew? This was one of
  the first YouTube memes, copied numerous times and with
  millions of views. Social Relevance: Coca-Cola hated it and
  complained but later came to embrace social media. “Our
  consumers control our brand” became its mantra.
64


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  June 2006 Asleep at the wheel: Comcast technician becomes
  poster child for poor customer service. 1.3 million view the
  video. Social Relevance: Comcast humiliation caused a change
  in priorities. Soon becomes industry leader in Twitter customer
  service help.

  August 2006 Starbucks is hit by a satirical attack on the price of
  Frappucinos as it fights accusations of unfairly treating Ethiopian
  coffee workers. Social Relevance: Videos like this highlighted
  Starbucks was losing touch with customers. Starbucks decides
  to make social media a priority.

  October 2006 Folksy “Isn’t Wal-Mart great” travel blog “Wal-
  Marting Across America” hits a reputation pot-hole when
  unmasked as being paid for by company. Social Relevance:
  Black eye for Wal-Mart amid accusations that it was trying to
  shift attention away from criticism of its labor practices.
65


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  December 2006 Sony sets new low standard for fake blogs with
  “All I want for Xmas is a PSP”. They even made a memorable
  video, now infamous. Social Relevance: Digital egg on face. PSP
  fans are outraged at being patronised. Sony issues social media
  mea culpa and pulls campaign.

  January 2007 Valentine’s Day: Jet Blue passengers are stranded
  for up to 8 hours on runway. They film and blog their ordeal.
  Social Relevance: Jet Blue understood how its reputation was
  being hurt online and so CEO David Neelman quickly crafted a
  YouTube apology.

  February 2007 Taco Bell suffers the ultimate PR horror, rats
  taking over one of its Manhattan chains. And a local TV news
  crew was there to document it. Social Relevance: Rodents in the
  kitchen making local news isn’t exactly new. But 1.2 million
  views on YouTube? Global embarrassment and one still viewed
66


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  March 2007 Greenpeace “punks” a Kleenex TV ad to protest
  Kimberly-Clark’s clear-cutting of ancient Boreal forests. Social
  Relevance: A 5-year campaign really took off once Greenpeace
  made its message social. In 2009, Kimberly-Clark changed its
  sourcing policies.

  November 2007 Molson’s first Facebook campaign backfired.
  Who could guess “ Show everyone how you and your crew get
  the party started!” would encourage photos of binge drinking?
  Social Relevance: Be careful what you ask for when associating
  your brand with unfettered Facebook content. Sobering lesson.

  February 2008 GM, fast on the heels of its pioneering Fastlane
  Blog, launches a social network site, GMNext. Its “green”
  section is pilloried by green activists. Social Relevance: Caught
  in the headlights of consumer ire, GM smartly engage its critics
  admitting some problems and responding on blogs and forums.
67


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  April 2008 Unilever’s Dove finds itself on the receiving end of an
  aggressive Greenpeace social media campaign against palm oil-
  driven deforestation. Social Relevance: Understanding the
  power of compelling, shareable content Greenpeace uses
  YouTube to stoke consumer ire against the largest palm oil
  buyer.

  June 2008 JCPenney’s “Speed Dressing” ad wins a Bronze Lion
  at Cannes. Just one problem: Neither the retailer or its ad
  agency claims to know anything about it. Social Relevance: In
  social media, content never dies. When the makers of the faux
  ad put it online and JCPenney disowned it, Speed Dressing’s
  fame was bound to grow.
68


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  August 2008 ExxonMobil isn’t known for its social media chops.
  Hence the surprise to see it start a Twitter feed. Especially as the
  oil giant knew nothing about it. Social Relevance: In one of the
  first cases of Twitter-squatting, “Janet” showed one of the
  world’s biggest companies that it couldn’t ignore social media.

  November 2008 Motrin’s sassy commercial aimed at Moms
  backfires spectacularly after a Twitter-army of motherly
  discontent swarms. Johnson & Johnson apologies. Social
  Relevance: A small group of influential Tweeters uses the social
  media megaphone to noisy effect. Twitter, it seems, really can
  give you a headache.
69


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  February 2009 The last straw: PepsiCo’s Tropicana rebranding
  gets pulped following an outraged online reaction by its
  traditional fan base. Social Relevance: Beware the focus group.
  PepsiCo’s research hadn’t anticipated the level of anger coming
  from its most loyal customers. The fiasco cost $35 million.

  February 2009 Skittles embraces social media by ceding control
  of its site to customer chatter. Talk about making a hashtag out it
  as air turns blue with obscenities. Social Relevance: Social
  media “experts’ preach “Be where your customer is”. But that
  doesn’t mean give up your brand. Bold social media FAIL.

  February 2009 Target shoots itself in the foot when it refuses to
  talk to a blogger because it claims Target customers don’t read
  blogs. Social Relevance: Who has influence in today’s social
  media world? Target took a very old-school view of things but
  forgot that the MSM didn’t share its outlook.
70


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  February 2009 Louis Vuitton threatened to sue the young
  designer who created this Darfur charity T-shirt claiming IP
  infringement. Blogs and Facebook had a field day. Social
  Relevance: In the old days, aggressive lawyering might have
  been a deterrent. In today’s social media goldfish bowl it looks
  like corporate bullying.

  April 2009 In the wake of an employee gross-out video that
  spread virally on YouTube, Domino’s USA president takes a leaf
  out of JetBlue’s book and issues a social media apology. Social
  Relevance: Once crisis comms was handled by press releases
  and carefully co-ordinated TV interviews. Now the discourse
  plays out online in real time.
71


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  June 2009 Habitat seemed to be getting the hang of the Twitter
  thing– until it was caught promoting new products using
  hashtag spam, including the Iranian election. Social Relevance:
  Twitter may be a new medium but you shouldn’t relinquish
  control of your corporate communication to “an over
  enthusiastic intern”. #FAIL!

  July 2009 United Airlines handles hundreds of lost and damaged
  baggage complaints each year. But aggrieved Dave Carroll went
  viral with his ballad of a broken guitar. Social Relevance: United
  had 9 months to placate Carroll before he penned his protest
  song. Instead they were confronted with a backlash millions
  empathised with.
72


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  August 2009 Dooce blogger Heather Armstrong couldn’t get
  Maytag to fix her washing machine. She groused on Twitter to
  her 1m+ followers. Maytag rapidly dispatched a repairman.
  Social Relevance: Armstrong’s Twitter clout was far more
  influential than Maytag’s own social media presence. A case of
  supposed corporate power turned on its head.

  October 2009 From the Dept. of “It seemed a good idea at the
  time.” PepsiCo quickly pulled this AMP iPhone app aimed at
  young guys after it was lambasted on Twitter as sexist. Social
  Relevance: The desire for social media to magically connect with
  the youth audience is fraught with danger for brands. This idea
  didn’t get to first base.
73


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  February 2010 Another month, another twitter fiasco. This time
  it’s a rogue homophobic employee. Social Relevance: Social
  media is often delegated to junior employees because they “get
  it”. Doesn’t mean they can understand how to protect a
  company’s reputation.

  February 2010 Southwest Air’s “Customer of Size” policy
  receives a high-profile roasting when the airline targets director
  Kevin Smith and he tweets his experiences. Social Relevance:
  Forcing obese passengers to buy an extra ticket had taken a
  back seat on the news agenda until Smith’s tweet to millions hit
  the headlines.
74


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  February 2010 British retailer Paperchase gets hammered by an
  artist who claims in her blog that the company has plagiarised
  her work, and rebuffed her offline complaints. Social Relevance:
  Unlike many big corporates, Paperchase had no social media
  presence prior to this attack. Social media swarms can hit mid-
  level companies too.

  February 2010 Greenpeace targeted Nestle but only when
  activists besieged Nestle’s Facebook page and the company got
  aggressive and deleted posts did it become a global story.
  Social Relevance: Nestle’s inept social media community
  management made it look like an arrogant, tin-eared corporate
  to the public. Just what Greenpeace wanted.
75


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  May 2010 8-year old kid sends cute crayon plane design to
  Boeing. Company responds with standard impersonal rejection
  letter. Kid’s father blogs it. Boeing apologises. Social Relevance:
  Boeing isn’t used to dealing directly with the public but
  nevertheless the age of replying with automated letters must
  surely be over.

  June 2010 BP spills millions of barrels of the oil into the Gulf of
  Mexico. Finds its online PR response clogged by Facebook
  outrage and a fake, hilarious Twitter account. Social Relevance:
  While BP spent £93m on ads, social media kept the pressure
  on. 350 “Boycott BP” Facebook groups formed and 188,000
  followed fake @ BPGlobalPR.
76


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  June 2010 Environmental activists tell Facebook to “unfriend
  coal,” a pressure campaign to get the company to ditch plans to
  build a new, coal-powered data centre. Social Relevance: As
  seen with the backlash over its privacy conditions, Facebook
  may be a social media leader but it continues to struggle with its
  own reputation. For this issue, it was forced to address
  environmentalists’ concerns at Davos in 2011.

  June 2010 Proctor & Gamble faces Mommy blogger
  groundswell over claims that Dry Max diapers cause rash and
  blistering. Social media storm prompts lawsuits and safety
  inquiries. Social Relevance: Pampers engages with social media,
  invites influential bloggers to P&G HQ where experts address
  concerns. Product safety inquiry finds no link to rash.
77


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  September 2010 McDonald’s wasn’t overly concerned by this
  local TV ad made by a community nutrition group linking its
  burgers to heart disease. That’s before they took it to YouTube.
  Social Relevance: YouTube continues to make local issues
  global when they resonate with worldwide audience. It’s already
  been viewed nearly 900,000 times.

  September 2010 Greenpeace is using Hollywood’s playbook
  with its sequel strategy of shaming multinationals out of using
  Sinar Mas palm oil. This time Burger King capitulates. Social
  Relevance: In just 12 months Facebook has become a crucial
  communication channel for major brands, making them more
  accountable than ever to customer feedback.
78


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  October 2010 Rainforest Action Network punks Chevron on eve
  of its “We Agree” do-gooder ad campaign with a series of
  fictitious stories and spoofed Like-worthy press releases tarring
  the oil giant as an environmental menace. Blogs and legit news
  sites take the bait and RAN’s fictitious “news” generates
  headlines (and buzz). Social Relevance: Who’s the villain here?
  This one will be debated for a long time. RAN may have won the
  day, but hoodwinking the bloggers and the mainstream media is
  no way to build credibility around your causes.
79


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  February 2011 Evidently, Kenneth Cole didn’t get Habitat
  hashtag memo (Jun ‘09). The fashion house tried to cash in on
  the rising tide of #Cairo Tweets, using it to plug its new spring
  collection. Cole even signed off with his signature -KC. Social
  Relevance: Insensitive and stupid? You bet. Coming from the
  boss, this hashtag abuse shows a particularly ugly side of the
  brand culture. Within hours, hundreds vowed to boycott. Few
  were mollified by KC’s mea culpa.

  February 2011 This is becoming a recurring theme in social
  media mismanagement: errant, out-of-character Tweets sullying
  a brand’s reputable Twitter feed. How could this happen? Hint:
  next month’s Chrysler gaffe could hold the key. Social
  Relevance: Turns out Red Cross do-gooders like a good brew
  as much as the rest of us. Odd that it comes amid desperate
  Tweets about fresh water and war crimes. Still, the online
  community brushed it off as “no foul.”
80


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  March 2011 Did Chrysler really drop the F-bomb? Turns out, no.
  It was its social media agency charged with running the Twitter
  feed. Chrysler apologized on its blog and cut ties with the
  agency, which then fired the foul-mouthed offender. Social
  Relevance: The whole groan-worthy story went from bad to
  worse when the fired employee blamed the whole mess on “a
  bug in TweetDeck.” God, we hate those F*&^ing bugs!

  April 2011 Cisco stuns the tech world by abruptly killing off the
  Flip video cam. It then pulls the plug on all communications on
  Flip’s Facebook and Twitter channels for more than a week,
  leaving disappointed fans seething. Social Relevance: File this
  one away in the “how not to kill off a beloved product” file. The
  300,000-plus fan base quickly turned on Cisco for leaving it in
  the dark for so long.
81


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  April 2011 The personal details of 77 million Sony PlayStation
  Network users are stolen by hackers in a massive breach. Sony
  shuts down the online gaming network within days, but takes
  over a week to inform users they’re at risk, prompting
  Congressional investigations. Once-loyal fans turn on Sony on
  the PSN blog, Twitter and Facebook. Social Relevance: Sony’s
  social media channels become a flashpoint for users’
  complaints, leaving privacy watchdogs and tech-savvy
  politicians plenty of ammunition with which to grill Sony execs.
82


Social Media Crisis Timeline

  July 2011 A high-speed train crashes in the Chinese region of
  Whenzou, killing 40, injuring 192 and seriously denting the
  nation’s faith in high-speed rail. When government censors order
  mainstream news to drop their coverage, the outrage finds a
  new home on Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) and forces
  tough responses from politicians. Social Relevance: Has China’s
  powerful censorship machine met its match? Viral amateur
  online video of the doomed train and probing Weibo posts force
  officials into a rare, candid response of China’s rail safety record

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Social Media and Crisis Communications for PR People

  • 1. 1 Social Media Crisis Communications for PR people A no-nonsense guide to crisis communications and social media for PR people Dr Paul Marsden Social Psychologist Social Media Strategy http://viralculture.com
  • 2. 2 “If you lose money for the firm I will be understanding. If you lose reputation I will be ruthless.” Warren Buffett “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”  Warren Buffett
  • 3. 3 Crisis communications is a core function of PR...
  • 4. 4 Social media can help us do crisis communications better, faster and more cost-effectively
  • 5. 5 Better crisis communications with social media - more useful, more responsive, more direct
  • 6. 6 Faster crisis communications with social media - immediate distribution, real-time updates
  • 7. 7 More cost-effective crisis communications with social media - self-publishing, inexpensive/free tools
  • 8. 8 But social media can also trigger and facilitate crises
  • 9. 9 Social media can trigger crises by causing crises themselves or by giving a voice to unheard detractors
  • 10. 10 Social media can facilitate crises by agenda setting and helping detractors to self-organise against you
  • 11. 11 So crisis communications teams need to know how to use and deal with social media
  • 12. 12 Four Essential Tools Four Point Plan Wordpress (social media CMS) Manage Issues Twitter page Plan & Prevent Facebook page Crisis Response YouTube channel Post-Crisis Response So here are four tools you’ll need and a simple four point plan for effective PR crisis comms with social media
  • 13. 13 The plan is built on the practical, tried-and-tested, peer- reviewed online crisis communications plan from IBM
  • 14. 14 The Crisis Comms Toolbox: You’ll need Wordpress - your social media CMS hub from which you will communicate
  • 15. 15 The Crisis Comms Toolbox: You’ll need a Twitter page - to auto-post links to news updates and answer queries
  • 16. 16 The Crisis Comms Toolbox: You’ll need a Facebook page - to auto-post links to news updates and answer queries
  • 17. 17 The Crisis Comms Toolbox: You’ll need a YouTube channel to host and post video news updates
  • 18. 18 Setting up and connecting up your crisis comms toolbox Wordpress Wordpress Training: wp101.com, ‘Hub’ wordpress.tv. lynda.com Platform ‘Spokes’ Wordpress: Download the free Wordpress CMS from wordpress.org and do the famous 5 minute install into a directory on your website - follow video training Facebook - link your Facebook page to your Wordpress pages via a free service such as Networked Blogs Twitter - link your Twitter page to you Wordpress pages via a free service such as Feedburner YouTube - create a YouTube channel to manually post any video news for you to embed on your Wordpress pages
  • 20. 20 Issues Management & Social Media (Overview) Assigning Resources Establishing Alert System Mapping Influencers Priortising Focus Engaging with Social Media Thinking Globally Drawing up Guidelines Training the Team
  • 21. 21 Issues Management: Assigning Resources Assign resources – human, economic and technological – to social media issues management. Consider whether an external agency or service can be of help Get senior management buy-in to the importance of crisis communications and social media and secure resources Assign responsibility for social media issues management internally or to an agency, and allocate time Assign budget for crisis communications with social media, including issues management Empower whoever is responsible for social media issues to act independently and immediately JET (Just Enough Technology) Update infrastructure by installing Wordpress (social media CMS) on your website
  • 22. 22 Issues Management: Establishing Alert System Establish an efficient social media monitoring alert system to add to your online news monitoring solution Set up a social media ‘listening post’ and use as an early warning system for issues as well as insight generator JET (just enough technology) solution - use free Google alerts and Twitter search alerts to monitor social media Consider paid social media monitoring services Set alerts for your organisation, as well as key issues, personnel and brands mentioned with your organisation Manually monitor your Wikipedia page entries Produce a weekly management summary of mentions and sentiment in social media
  • 23. 23 Issues Management: Mapping influencers Draw a full map of social media influencers (bloggers, journalists who publish in social media, group, page and forum moderators) noting their issues of interest or concern Do a Google and Twitter search for key issues and your organisation and industry to identify leading social media voices Generate a social media contact list, listing their name, sites and issues that interest or concern them Subscribe to their content Begin building relationships by commenting on their content
  • 24. 24 Issues Management: Prioritising focus Prioritise your focus based on issues - on their probability of occurrence and their possible impact on the organisation List the top 10 possible events that could occur that would carry the most reputational risk to your organisation Score each out of 10 in terms of it’s likelihood of occurrence (0 not at all likely, 10 extremely likely) (= a) Score each out of 10 in terms of severity of impact on your organisation’s reputation (= b) Multiply a x b, and rank issues by score. Prioritise issues management activities by score
  • 25. 25 Issues Management: Engaging with social media Consider starting a corporate blog to engage with social media users well before a crisis situation arises Install Wordpress in a folder on your site, and use as your social media news room - inviting comments, sharing and discussion Communicate on your blog in an appropriate social media style - social, conversational, realtime, multimedia, mobile, search-engine optimised Consider video-blogging with interviews and Q&As with staff, publish on blog and to your YouTube channel Automatically syndicate your posts to your Facebook and Twitter pages (feedburner / networked blogs)
  • 26. 26 Issues Management: Thinking globally Think globally. Any local issue can today easily evolve, through social media, into a regional or a global crisis. An upset customer flapping their arms in a far off land can cause a Tsunami where you are - think global, act global
  • 27. 27 Issues Management: Drawing up guidelines Draw up guidelines on the approach, tone, and language that is appropriate for dialogue in a dynamic, social media environment. This will be quite different from the more formal and distant corporate tone and language used in traditional communications. Adapt communication by making it: ‘Social’ by enabling social interaction and sharing, ‘Conversational’ - informal and brief in style, ‘Real-time’ - live and on demand, ‘Multimedia’ - with images, video and sound, ‘Mobile’ - handset-friendly and location-aware, ‘Findable’ - using search terms people use Create organisation-wide social media guidelines, who - as employee - can publish what, where and when in social media - specifically referencing issue priorities (see appendix for template). Get senior management sign off, publish on your intranet, conduct training as necessary
  • 28. 28 Issues Management: Training Train the team. Become familiar with how issues develop in social media Review social media issues management cases, and know you’d respond (see social media crisis timeline in appendix)) Know how to and “speak” in social media and understand the 6 principles - social, conversational, realtime, multimedia, mobile, search-engine optimised Learn how to use the four key social media communication tools - Wordpress, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube Know when to respond and when to ignore social media content (see next) Run regular scenario training using an internal training blog
  • 29. 29 Issues Management: Training Take reasonable Yes action to fix issue Positive Negative and let customer know action taken No Do you want Assess the Evaluate the Yes to respond message purpose Does customer need/deserve more info? Can you add Unhappy Are the facts No response value? customer? correct? Yes No Gently correct the No No facts Respond in Thank the Dedicated Are the facts kind and share person complainer? correct? No No Yes Explain what is Comedian Is the problem Yes being done to want-to-be? being fixed? correct the issue Yes No Adapted from US Airforce Let post stand and monitor
  • 31. 31 Planning and Prevention & Social Media (Overview) Creating your Situation Room Evaluating capabilities Putting together Rapid Response Team Engaging specialists Updating Contacts Testing the plan Assigning Responsibilities Testing Monitoring Real-time Planning how to Respond Creating a ‘dark’ Crisis Blog Registering at-risk Domains Identifying Allies
  • 32. 32 Planning and Prevention: Creating your Situation Room Consider developing your crisis manual online: it is easier to update and maintain than hard-copy, and it offers the possibility to include links to multiple sources of information and databases. It also allows communications actions such as e-mail distribution and point-and-click distribution of press materials Use a passworded Wordpress pages on your site, or install Wordpress on your Intranet Consider using these pages as your internal ‘situation room’ to be used by crisis management team members to obtain internal information related to the crisis, guidelines, plans, news reports, statements, contact information, etc.
  • 33. 33 Planning and Prevention: Putting together the team Put together your rapid response crisis communications team and assign responsibilities Who will have overall responsibility - ensure they are empowered to act fast and autonomously in a crisis? Who will fulfil the communications tasks? Internal (Senior management, and staff) External (Publishing news updates on social media properties, Influencer Outreach (Bloggers/Journalists), Responding to comments and queries in social media) Ensure you have contact details of all rapid response comms team members, and ensure they understand it is a 24/7 responsibility
  • 34. 34 Planning and Prevention: Updating contacts Update e-mailing lists, contact databases and site directories Email lists - rapid response team, staff, influencers Contact databases - rapid response team, staff, influencers Site directories - key sites to monitor during crisis
  • 35. 35 Planning and Prevention: Assigning responsibilities Decide who will be able to publish what, where and how during a crisis, and get sign-off How will your social media policy change in the event of a crisis? Consider only allowing crisis team to publish How will marketing communications change in the event of a crisis? Consider pausing any marketing messages
  • 36. 36 Planning and Prevention: Testing monitoring real-time Check whether the regular media monitoring service is fast enough to follow the crisis, especially for online media outlets. Can your traditional and social media monitoring report on a half daily or even hourly basis?
  • 37. 37 Planning and Prevention: Planning if/when to respond Draft guidelines to respond quickly to web-based rumours Use the social media response plan to decide whether to respond Respond when rumour source is influential, has a large online readership If you can’t provide clarity or help, do not respond Be courteous, human and helpful - but do not debate, point people instead to your own site for the response Rumours spread when there is an informational vacuum, informational ambiguity, and a lack of informational authority, so provide clear authoritative and helpful information to quell rumours
  • 38. 38 Planning and Prevention: Creating a crisis blog Create hidden or ‘dark’ blog on your web-site to be used in case of a crisis to update all constituencies about the issue Use your Wordpress directory to create a crisis blog (web- log) that can be made visible in the event of a crisis. Have a web agency do this for you if necessary Create a pre-formatted page template, with an area for news, key contacts, useful links and resources and get sign off from senior management prior to any crisis Use Google adwords to build list of keywords (negative and positive) to use in the crisis blog for SEO/SEM (Search Engine Optimisation/Search Engine Marketing) Assign budget for promoting your crisis blog with SEM (Google ads)
  • 39. 39 Planning and Prevention: Registering at-risk domains Register domain names, including those with negative connotations, that could be hijacked by activist groups CompanyNameDisaster.com/net/org CompanyNameSucks.com/net/org SueCompanyName.com/net/org CompanyNameFail.com/net/org
  • 40. 40 Planning and Prevention: Identifying allies Identify relevant third-party organisations and individuals (e.g., bloggers) that could act as allies and can provide a balanced view in the case of a negative audience debate. Engage with them in advance. Use the fruits of your influencer outreach activity in Issues Management to identify and engage with friendly third- parties
  • 41. 41 Planning and Prevention: Evaluating capabilities Evaluate your in-house capabilities to develop graphic, video, and audio files that could be quickly distributed online, whether they are simple digital pictures or more elaborate podcasts. Purchase the necessary equipment or think about outsourcing these services. Ensure you have a digital video camera, regular digital camera and audio recorder, and know how to use it Know how to use basic media editing software (iPhoto, iMovie, Audacity) If outsourcing, contact providers and purchase emergency media production capabilities
  • 42. 42 Planning and Prevention: Engaging specialists Consider whether you need your traditional PR firm to do online PR and social media or you need to hire a separate PR firm or partner. Ask to see the crisis communications plan of your traditional PR firm (their own, not what they sell) to evaluate their capabilities
  • 43. 43 Planning and Prevention: Testing the plan Test the crisis plan. Scramble your rapid response communications team out of hours at least once a year and run an extending training scenario. Debrief the team on what they did, and discuss what they could do better.
  • 45. 45 Crisis & Social Media (Overview) Scrambling the Team Monitoring in Real-time Going Public Updating Staff Getting Visibility Reaching Out Showing a Human Face
  • 46. 46 Crisis: Scrambling the team Scramble your Rapid Response Crisis Communications team, and alert senior management to the crisis that is unfolding Ensure everybody is present, in contact with each other and knows what they need to do
  • 47. 47 Crisis: Monitoring in real-time Ensure monitoring services are aware of the crisis situation and that they report electronically all outcomes as they appear Before responding, use monitoring data to understand how people are responding to the situation, what is being said and why
  • 48. 48 Crisis: Going public Go public as soon as possible by making your crisis blog visible with latest information, updates and instructions Place an obvious link to your crisis blog on your home page as soon as possible Keep information true, helpful and brief. Explain how you are resolving the situation. Respond to legitimate questions honestly - this is not the time for PR spin. Acknowledge the emotional dimension of the situation “We understand/realise this is frustrating, confusing...” Update crisis blog regularly, at least every hour in acute phase of crisis, confirming when the next update will come Update blog with links to reputable third-party sites or people who are favourably covering the issue.
  • 49. 49 Crisis: Updating staff Update staff on the situation, and on any changes to traditional and social media communications during the crisis Keep staff updated as a matter of priority, and ensure they are aware of the crisis blog As appropriate advise a temporary black-out on marketing communications, social media and PR during the crisis
  • 50. 50 Crisis: Getting visibility Use search engine marketing (Google Ads) and search engine optimisation (using search words) to improve the visibility of your crisis blog. Buy Google search display ads for search terms related to the event, linking to your crisis blog Use search words, even if unflattering (Eurostarfail) in the title and copy of your news updates increase Google visibility
  • 51. 51 Crisis: Reaching out Reach out to key social media contacts (bloggers, journalists, page/forum moderators) by email and text with a personal message and a latest update, pointing them to your crisis blog Respond to their queries as a matter of priority Link to any favourable coverage as a result of the outreach
  • 52. 52 Crisis: Showing a human face Get CEOs to personally address visitors to your crisis blog (post, video post) Give your organisation a human face with an interview or post Record any media interviews and post transcripts to your crisis blog
  • 54. 54 Post-Crisis (Overview) Tracking & Monitoring Thanking Everyone Updating Content Rebuilding Reputation Evaluating Actions
  • 55. 55 Post-Crisis: Tracking and monitoring Continue tracking the issue by monitoring social and traditional online media, during the months – and even years – to come Update the keywords you monitor to include those related to the event Continue to respond to legitimate questions and anxieties by showing what - practically you have done, and are continuing to do to put it right Be truthful, be compassionate, move on
  • 56. 56 Post-Crisis: Thanking everyone Thank those who helped the organisation during the crisis. From a social media point of view, this could include ‘thank you’ posts on blogs, through contact forms or personal e-mail messages Your colleagues Your team Your customers - for their understanding Third-party bloggers and journalists Your investors - for their support
  • 57. 57 Post-Crisis: Updating content Update the company’s online properties appropriately, editing or updating any legacy content Don’t try and rewrite the past, you can’t Consider leaving your crisis blog online with a public thank you to your customers and to all those that helped Update your company’s Wikipedia page to acknowledge the incident
  • 58. 58 Post-Crisis: Rebuilding reputation Define the strategies and tactics at play to rebuild the company’s reputation: from in-depth analysis of online content and opinion leaders, to online chats with the most active bloggers. Understand how your reputation has been damaged and what you need to do to repair it Know that it’s actions not words that will repair your reputation - so put it right
  • 59. 59 Post-Crisis: Evaluating actions Evaluate what happened and how the organisation responded, so that the crisis plan and all the online-related measures could be properly adapted. Run a debrief session with all parties involved to find out you can learn from the event to improve your crisis communications
  • 60. 60 DR PAUL MARSDEN SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGIST SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY LONDON PAUL@VIRALCULTURE.COM @MARSATTACKS +44 777 95 77 248 I’ll look forward to helping you apply the plan in the ‘Social Media for PR People’ course. Enjoy. Share. Profit.
  • 61. 61 Social Media Crisis Timeline Source: SMI
  • 62. 62 Social Media Crisis Timeline September 2004 A Kryptonite lock is picked apart by a blogger with a Bic pen. First blogs, then the New York Times amplify the feat as the company fails to respond. Social Relevance: Viral effect costs $15 million in product recalls. June 2005 L’Oreal is skinned alive by the first big fake blog fiasco Social Relevance: The first demonstration that flashy advertising values don’t work in social media. August 2005 Jeff Jarvis invents “angry blogger slams customer service syndrome”. Hundreds of others blog about similar shoddy Dell customer service. Social Relevance: Dell is one of the first companies to learn that, in social media, you ignore your customers at your peril.
  • 63. 63 Social Media Crisis Timeline April 2006 Chevy’s Design your own Tahoe competition loses its big end to crowdsourced complaints. Social Relevance: A big brand learns first-hand it has no control when it comes to social media marketing. June 2006 Dell’s reputation goes up in smoke after leading tech blog Gizmodo publishes photo of exploding laptop. Social Relevance: The power of a single image that spreads online. Dell forced to recall more than 4 million laptop batteries. June 2006 Diet Coke and Mentos – Who knew? This was one of the first YouTube memes, copied numerous times and with millions of views. Social Relevance: Coca-Cola hated it and complained but later came to embrace social media. “Our consumers control our brand” became its mantra.
  • 64. 64 Social Media Crisis Timeline June 2006 Asleep at the wheel: Comcast technician becomes poster child for poor customer service. 1.3 million view the video. Social Relevance: Comcast humiliation caused a change in priorities. Soon becomes industry leader in Twitter customer service help. August 2006 Starbucks is hit by a satirical attack on the price of Frappucinos as it fights accusations of unfairly treating Ethiopian coffee workers. Social Relevance: Videos like this highlighted Starbucks was losing touch with customers. Starbucks decides to make social media a priority. October 2006 Folksy “Isn’t Wal-Mart great” travel blog “Wal- Marting Across America” hits a reputation pot-hole when unmasked as being paid for by company. Social Relevance: Black eye for Wal-Mart amid accusations that it was trying to shift attention away from criticism of its labor practices.
  • 65. 65 Social Media Crisis Timeline December 2006 Sony sets new low standard for fake blogs with “All I want for Xmas is a PSP”. They even made a memorable video, now infamous. Social Relevance: Digital egg on face. PSP fans are outraged at being patronised. Sony issues social media mea culpa and pulls campaign. January 2007 Valentine’s Day: Jet Blue passengers are stranded for up to 8 hours on runway. They film and blog their ordeal. Social Relevance: Jet Blue understood how its reputation was being hurt online and so CEO David Neelman quickly crafted a YouTube apology. February 2007 Taco Bell suffers the ultimate PR horror, rats taking over one of its Manhattan chains. And a local TV news crew was there to document it. Social Relevance: Rodents in the kitchen making local news isn’t exactly new. But 1.2 million views on YouTube? Global embarrassment and one still viewed
  • 66. 66 Social Media Crisis Timeline March 2007 Greenpeace “punks” a Kleenex TV ad to protest Kimberly-Clark’s clear-cutting of ancient Boreal forests. Social Relevance: A 5-year campaign really took off once Greenpeace made its message social. In 2009, Kimberly-Clark changed its sourcing policies. November 2007 Molson’s first Facebook campaign backfired. Who could guess “ Show everyone how you and your crew get the party started!” would encourage photos of binge drinking? Social Relevance: Be careful what you ask for when associating your brand with unfettered Facebook content. Sobering lesson. February 2008 GM, fast on the heels of its pioneering Fastlane Blog, launches a social network site, GMNext. Its “green” section is pilloried by green activists. Social Relevance: Caught in the headlights of consumer ire, GM smartly engage its critics admitting some problems and responding on blogs and forums.
  • 67. 67 Social Media Crisis Timeline April 2008 Unilever’s Dove finds itself on the receiving end of an aggressive Greenpeace social media campaign against palm oil- driven deforestation. Social Relevance: Understanding the power of compelling, shareable content Greenpeace uses YouTube to stoke consumer ire against the largest palm oil buyer. June 2008 JCPenney’s “Speed Dressing” ad wins a Bronze Lion at Cannes. Just one problem: Neither the retailer or its ad agency claims to know anything about it. Social Relevance: In social media, content never dies. When the makers of the faux ad put it online and JCPenney disowned it, Speed Dressing’s fame was bound to grow.
  • 68. 68 Social Media Crisis Timeline August 2008 ExxonMobil isn’t known for its social media chops. Hence the surprise to see it start a Twitter feed. Especially as the oil giant knew nothing about it. Social Relevance: In one of the first cases of Twitter-squatting, “Janet” showed one of the world’s biggest companies that it couldn’t ignore social media. November 2008 Motrin’s sassy commercial aimed at Moms backfires spectacularly after a Twitter-army of motherly discontent swarms. Johnson & Johnson apologies. Social Relevance: A small group of influential Tweeters uses the social media megaphone to noisy effect. Twitter, it seems, really can give you a headache.
  • 69. 69 Social Media Crisis Timeline February 2009 The last straw: PepsiCo’s Tropicana rebranding gets pulped following an outraged online reaction by its traditional fan base. Social Relevance: Beware the focus group. PepsiCo’s research hadn’t anticipated the level of anger coming from its most loyal customers. The fiasco cost $35 million. February 2009 Skittles embraces social media by ceding control of its site to customer chatter. Talk about making a hashtag out it as air turns blue with obscenities. Social Relevance: Social media “experts’ preach “Be where your customer is”. But that doesn’t mean give up your brand. Bold social media FAIL. February 2009 Target shoots itself in the foot when it refuses to talk to a blogger because it claims Target customers don’t read blogs. Social Relevance: Who has influence in today’s social media world? Target took a very old-school view of things but forgot that the MSM didn’t share its outlook.
  • 70. 70 Social Media Crisis Timeline February 2009 Louis Vuitton threatened to sue the young designer who created this Darfur charity T-shirt claiming IP infringement. Blogs and Facebook had a field day. Social Relevance: In the old days, aggressive lawyering might have been a deterrent. In today’s social media goldfish bowl it looks like corporate bullying. April 2009 In the wake of an employee gross-out video that spread virally on YouTube, Domino’s USA president takes a leaf out of JetBlue’s book and issues a social media apology. Social Relevance: Once crisis comms was handled by press releases and carefully co-ordinated TV interviews. Now the discourse plays out online in real time.
  • 71. 71 Social Media Crisis Timeline June 2009 Habitat seemed to be getting the hang of the Twitter thing– until it was caught promoting new products using hashtag spam, including the Iranian election. Social Relevance: Twitter may be a new medium but you shouldn’t relinquish control of your corporate communication to “an over enthusiastic intern”. #FAIL! July 2009 United Airlines handles hundreds of lost and damaged baggage complaints each year. But aggrieved Dave Carroll went viral with his ballad of a broken guitar. Social Relevance: United had 9 months to placate Carroll before he penned his protest song. Instead they were confronted with a backlash millions empathised with.
  • 72. 72 Social Media Crisis Timeline August 2009 Dooce blogger Heather Armstrong couldn’t get Maytag to fix her washing machine. She groused on Twitter to her 1m+ followers. Maytag rapidly dispatched a repairman. Social Relevance: Armstrong’s Twitter clout was far more influential than Maytag’s own social media presence. A case of supposed corporate power turned on its head. October 2009 From the Dept. of “It seemed a good idea at the time.” PepsiCo quickly pulled this AMP iPhone app aimed at young guys after it was lambasted on Twitter as sexist. Social Relevance: The desire for social media to magically connect with the youth audience is fraught with danger for brands. This idea didn’t get to first base.
  • 73. 73 Social Media Crisis Timeline February 2010 Another month, another twitter fiasco. This time it’s a rogue homophobic employee. Social Relevance: Social media is often delegated to junior employees because they “get it”. Doesn’t mean they can understand how to protect a company’s reputation. February 2010 Southwest Air’s “Customer of Size” policy receives a high-profile roasting when the airline targets director Kevin Smith and he tweets his experiences. Social Relevance: Forcing obese passengers to buy an extra ticket had taken a back seat on the news agenda until Smith’s tweet to millions hit the headlines.
  • 74. 74 Social Media Crisis Timeline February 2010 British retailer Paperchase gets hammered by an artist who claims in her blog that the company has plagiarised her work, and rebuffed her offline complaints. Social Relevance: Unlike many big corporates, Paperchase had no social media presence prior to this attack. Social media swarms can hit mid- level companies too. February 2010 Greenpeace targeted Nestle but only when activists besieged Nestle’s Facebook page and the company got aggressive and deleted posts did it become a global story. Social Relevance: Nestle’s inept social media community management made it look like an arrogant, tin-eared corporate to the public. Just what Greenpeace wanted.
  • 75. 75 Social Media Crisis Timeline May 2010 8-year old kid sends cute crayon plane design to Boeing. Company responds with standard impersonal rejection letter. Kid’s father blogs it. Boeing apologises. Social Relevance: Boeing isn’t used to dealing directly with the public but nevertheless the age of replying with automated letters must surely be over. June 2010 BP spills millions of barrels of the oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Finds its online PR response clogged by Facebook outrage and a fake, hilarious Twitter account. Social Relevance: While BP spent £93m on ads, social media kept the pressure on. 350 “Boycott BP” Facebook groups formed and 188,000 followed fake @ BPGlobalPR.
  • 76. 76 Social Media Crisis Timeline June 2010 Environmental activists tell Facebook to “unfriend coal,” a pressure campaign to get the company to ditch plans to build a new, coal-powered data centre. Social Relevance: As seen with the backlash over its privacy conditions, Facebook may be a social media leader but it continues to struggle with its own reputation. For this issue, it was forced to address environmentalists’ concerns at Davos in 2011. June 2010 Proctor & Gamble faces Mommy blogger groundswell over claims that Dry Max diapers cause rash and blistering. Social media storm prompts lawsuits and safety inquiries. Social Relevance: Pampers engages with social media, invites influential bloggers to P&G HQ where experts address concerns. Product safety inquiry finds no link to rash.
  • 77. 77 Social Media Crisis Timeline September 2010 McDonald’s wasn’t overly concerned by this local TV ad made by a community nutrition group linking its burgers to heart disease. That’s before they took it to YouTube. Social Relevance: YouTube continues to make local issues global when they resonate with worldwide audience. It’s already been viewed nearly 900,000 times. September 2010 Greenpeace is using Hollywood’s playbook with its sequel strategy of shaming multinationals out of using Sinar Mas palm oil. This time Burger King capitulates. Social Relevance: In just 12 months Facebook has become a crucial communication channel for major brands, making them more accountable than ever to customer feedback.
  • 78. 78 Social Media Crisis Timeline October 2010 Rainforest Action Network punks Chevron on eve of its “We Agree” do-gooder ad campaign with a series of fictitious stories and spoofed Like-worthy press releases tarring the oil giant as an environmental menace. Blogs and legit news sites take the bait and RAN’s fictitious “news” generates headlines (and buzz). Social Relevance: Who’s the villain here? This one will be debated for a long time. RAN may have won the day, but hoodwinking the bloggers and the mainstream media is no way to build credibility around your causes.
  • 79. 79 Social Media Crisis Timeline February 2011 Evidently, Kenneth Cole didn’t get Habitat hashtag memo (Jun ‘09). The fashion house tried to cash in on the rising tide of #Cairo Tweets, using it to plug its new spring collection. Cole even signed off with his signature -KC. Social Relevance: Insensitive and stupid? You bet. Coming from the boss, this hashtag abuse shows a particularly ugly side of the brand culture. Within hours, hundreds vowed to boycott. Few were mollified by KC’s mea culpa. February 2011 This is becoming a recurring theme in social media mismanagement: errant, out-of-character Tweets sullying a brand’s reputable Twitter feed. How could this happen? Hint: next month’s Chrysler gaffe could hold the key. Social Relevance: Turns out Red Cross do-gooders like a good brew as much as the rest of us. Odd that it comes amid desperate Tweets about fresh water and war crimes. Still, the online community brushed it off as “no foul.”
  • 80. 80 Social Media Crisis Timeline March 2011 Did Chrysler really drop the F-bomb? Turns out, no. It was its social media agency charged with running the Twitter feed. Chrysler apologized on its blog and cut ties with the agency, which then fired the foul-mouthed offender. Social Relevance: The whole groan-worthy story went from bad to worse when the fired employee blamed the whole mess on “a bug in TweetDeck.” God, we hate those F*&^ing bugs! April 2011 Cisco stuns the tech world by abruptly killing off the Flip video cam. It then pulls the plug on all communications on Flip’s Facebook and Twitter channels for more than a week, leaving disappointed fans seething. Social Relevance: File this one away in the “how not to kill off a beloved product” file. The 300,000-plus fan base quickly turned on Cisco for leaving it in the dark for so long.
  • 81. 81 Social Media Crisis Timeline April 2011 The personal details of 77 million Sony PlayStation Network users are stolen by hackers in a massive breach. Sony shuts down the online gaming network within days, but takes over a week to inform users they’re at risk, prompting Congressional investigations. Once-loyal fans turn on Sony on the PSN blog, Twitter and Facebook. Social Relevance: Sony’s social media channels become a flashpoint for users’ complaints, leaving privacy watchdogs and tech-savvy politicians plenty of ammunition with which to grill Sony execs.
  • 82. 82 Social Media Crisis Timeline July 2011 A high-speed train crashes in the Chinese region of Whenzou, killing 40, injuring 192 and seriously denting the nation’s faith in high-speed rail. When government censors order mainstream news to drop their coverage, the outrage finds a new home on Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) and forces tough responses from politicians. Social Relevance: Has China’s powerful censorship machine met its match? Viral amateur online video of the doomed train and probing Weibo posts force officials into a rare, candid response of China’s rail safety record