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How to
survive
a
“You shouldn’t be intimidated by a crisis.
The “golden minute” matters. Immediate
internal coordination and forming.”
Hannes Bliem | Swarovski
“We found that quite a lot of pressure can be lifted by a
quick reaction. Especially unacknowledged postings on
weekends can turn toxic very quickly. It can be hard to
recover the next day.”
Daniel Schwarz | SBB
Imprint:
Media owner, publisher & issuer:
Box Network Europe
Editorial office: ambuzzador Marketing GmbH
You can also find this crisis manual for
download at www.boxnetworkeurope.com
What is a Shitstorm?
Every single day, brands and companies are challenged to deliver their
opinion in the online discourse – often, it is important to constructively
accept criticism and find good solutions for the stakeholders‘ concerns.
But every now and then, emotions won’t be calmed down with factual
arguments. During such a social media crisis, feelings run high, and the
s*** really hits the fan. This is why in German, we coined the word „Shit-
storm“: It describes that difficult situation for brand managers when you
really need to keep a cool head.
In this booklet, we have summarized “10 golden rules” for an easier hand-
ling of crisis communication in Social Media: We wish you pleasurable
reading – but in case of emergency, contact us directly, since every crisis
exhibits its own dynamic!
The Box Network
“If there is sporadic criticism, other listeners step
into the breach for us straight away.”
Albert Malli | Ö3
“The speed of technical development is
higher than our learning aptitude.”
Gerhard Kürner | voestalpine
32
HAPPYCHOCO
This is Joe. Joe is the Social Media Ma-
nager of HappyChoco Corporation. His
Facebook community loves chocolate
and is always good-humoured!
But today is not a good day for Joe: Yesterday,
a documentary about cocoa cultivation aired
on TV, and it harshly criticized HappyChoco
Corporation’s production plants ...
54
Frida K. 5 minutes ago
Are you going to comment on the
documentary anytime soon???
Tamara C. 3 minutes ago
You’re so mean!
Never eating Happy-
Choco again!
Teresa D. 9 minutes ago
Yeah right, HAPPY-
Choco! Didn’t look
all that HAPPY on TV
last night.
George T. 5 minutes ago
Have you all seen
the documentary
yesterday? Boycott!
Rosi B. 5 minutes ago
@happychoco I’ll never buy your
products again!
Bert F. 5 minutes ago
Stop it with your pretty TV spots,
the production conditions are
unbearable!
Mark B. 6 minutes ago
Here is the
documentary on
youtube – every-
one watch it!!!!!!!
Mirja B. 14 minutes ago
I will never buyany of your
products again!
Patrick H. 12 minutes ago
I’m telling
all my friends
about this!
... and all the critics now post on the Facebook-
Page.
On other Social Media channels, the community
is piping up as well.
76
Focus: Attention
Trolls
Trolls aren’t just tiny plastic figures with funny hair – on-
line, they like to have fun by discussing all sorts of topics.
They want to make their listeners (or readers) laugh.
What now? The challenge here is to find the source of
the issue. Don’t join the discussion – but if it goes well
with your brand, show some humour.
Typology of a shitstorm
Stormers
Stormers mainly want attention. Because of this, it’s
in their interest to prolong the problem.
What now? Give a factual statement about the issue,
without adding fuel to the conflict.
If possible, contact Stormers directly and make him
the star of your solution.Activists
The Activists care about the questions of principle:
The way a company treats its customers, for example.
They aren’t happy with a simple solution to the problem –
they want to make sure that processes are changed.
What now? A quick reaction is the key: Apologise
and explain how the incident happened – and which
provisions are made to avoid it in the future.
Freeloaders
These users take everything – as long as it is for free.
Every problem is blown up as big as possible to get back
a free sample or a coupon.
What now? Find out if they really care about the issue
or just want a gift. If necessary, apologise – but make
no exceptions to the company’s reimbursement policy.
If possible, try to contact Freeloaders directly and solve
the problem outside of your Social Media channel.
Focus: Topic
Rational
Emotional
98
The Defender System
1110
1st mistake:
Posting according to editorial plan
3rd mistake:
Panic and random research
2nd mistake:
Respond to all accusations
individually
HappyChoco 12 minutes ago
Our new samples: Walnut whales!
Tried it already?
HAPPY
CHOCO
Mark B. 6 minutes ago
Are you nuts? I’ll never
eat anything from
your company again!
Tamara C. 3 minutes ago
Nobody cares about your
new chocolates! You better
explain the accusations
from the documentary!!!
George T. 5 minutes ago
Have you all seen
the docu yesterday?
Boycott!
HappyChoco 12 minutes ago
Hello, we always insist on written
confirmation from all our suppliers to
confirm they are working according
to international guidelines.
HAPPY
CHOCO
George T. 5 minutes ago
WHY DON’T YOU GO THERE
YOURSELVES, how about that?!
Joe and his colleagues are overwhelmed:
What to do? How should they handle the
many allegations and postings?
1312
1. Define processes for official statements and
approvals or reconfirm according to the crisis manual.
2. Promptly author a clear, factual statement with
regards to content for the online community.
3. Official statement, centrally available for journalists,
media and official institutions.
4. Issue Management: Collect, categorise, classify and
verify allegations. Differentiated communication!
5. Inform employees and create awareness: They are
image-holders too and should only communicate
official statements – ideally, they keep out of the
discussions.
10 Rules
AT A GLANCE 6. Moderation instead of discussion: Pull the
discussion into a distinct discussion board, in
which the community can discuss the issue.
7. Put together clear rules for the duration of the
shitstorm (internally and externally) and comply
with them – transparently for everyone. Postings
in breach of the rules (and thus against laws and
morality) are taken out of the discussion – with
a warning and reference to the rules.
8. During the crisis communication, only use
standardised postings – as to not offer any new
points of attack.
9. Involve law experts to know the state of
affairs: about the issue itself, but also about the
statutory violations on the Facebook wall.
10. Full documentation of the discussion is
necessary for possible review with regards to
content or law.
1514
1.
Define processes for official state-
ments and approvals or reconfirm
according to the crisis manual.
Promptly author a clear, factual
statement for the online community.
In a crisis manual, contact persons and processes are
determined – ideally before the crisis. For different crisis
scenarios, different measures are taken and different
wordings used.
The prepared wordings are adapted to the current crisis.
Facts are described clearly and wrong accusations are
invalidated. Important: Don’t be goaded into leaving an
emotional statement – stay factual!
2.
Happy Choco 3 minutes ago
Dear friends of HappyChoco,
there have been many discussions about the
TV documentary “Happy Choco?” in the past
few days. In terms of a transparent commu-
nication, we would like to comment on the
accusations made in the report.
HAPPY
CHOCO
Crisis
Manual
1716
3.
Make an official statement
centrally available.
Collect, categorise, classify and
verify allegations.
Journalists and public institutions should be able to quote
the statement first-hand. Proactive information is better than
waiting for the shitstorm. Here, it’s important to stick to the
“Lead of Communication”.
Accusations are coming in thick and fast. That doesn’t mean
you have to reply to every single one straight away – or that
every single one is legitimate. Sort them and choose
differentiated approaches.
4.
Trolls
Stormers
Activists
Freeloaders
DOC PDF
Statement Statement
1918
5.
Inform employees and create
awareness: You are image-holders too.
Moderation instead of discussion:
Pull the discussion into a distinct
discussion board.All employees are speakers for the company as well – especially
if they mention their employer in their Social Media profiles.
The impulse to defend the own company is understandable.
Despite that: Ideally, your colleagues don’t join the discussion.
A discussion board on Facebook or on your website is
the place for the official statement and the community’s
discussion. Thus, the Facebook wall stays clear and service
requests can be attended to.
6.
Internal memo about
TV-discussion
HAPPY CHOCO
2120
7.
Put together clear rules for the
duration of the shitstorm and comply
with them – transparently for everyone.
Only use standardised postings
during the crisis communication.
Postings in breach of the rules (and thus against laws and
morality) are taken out of the discussion with a warning and
reference to the disclaimer. There is space for the rules in the
Facebook disclaimer – for example, comments below the belt,
personal insults and multiple postings can definitely be deleted
after a warning. Transparency is very important here to avoid
upsetting the community by arbitrariness.
A clear answer with a link to the official statement or the
discussion-forum prevents the Stormers from finding new
points of attack.
8.
D I S C L A I M E R
The usage of our site is subject to the following rules: every user is responsible
for his or her contribution. The user guarantees not to save any contents if
usage is in direct violation of applicable law, especially the criminal code...
HAPPY
CHOCO
Patrick H. 12 minutes ago
I’m telling all my
friends about
this!!
HappyChoco 3 minutes ago
Hello, different production plantsof different chocolate producerswere portrayed in the documen-tary. Our chocolate is producedaccording to strict qualityguidelines.
You can read all the details here:www.LinkToStatement.com
HAPPY
CHOCO
George T. 5 minutes ago
Have you all seen
the docu yester-
day? Boycott!
2322
Hans Buzztard?
9.
Involve law experts to know the
state of affairs: About the issue itself,
but also about statutory violations
on the Facebook wall.
Full documentation of the
discussion – for possible review
with regards to content or law.
Research identities: Who are the notably dedicated Stormers
and which (hidden) agenda do they follow?
Research pays off for users who reply more often: Maybe
a competitor or a disappointed ex-employee is behind the
alias? If you know the Stormer’s agenda, you can react to the
allegations more easily.
10.
§
2524
Box Network Europe is a smart network of like-minded, independent
Social Media and Digital PR agencies.
We deliver a wealth of specialist experience, languages, talent and
coverage – including Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain
and Switzerland beyond.
We enable brands to select the best Social Media, PR and digital talent
and coverage from within a box of international options. This helps our
clients to manage creative campaign decisions at a global level and to
execute programs at a local level to ensure relevance, timeliness and
best approach.
Operating as a box of independent agencies, we are able to ‘pick and
mix’ skill sets and language requirements to deliver highly customised
campaign teams.
We have instant coverage, immediate scale and the ability to deploy best
of breed skill sets across national and linguistic boundaries.
About Box Network
France: Claire Goyat, Partner cgo&co
+33 (0)2 28 03 90 47 / cgoyat@cgoandco.com / @schrempfette
Italy: Marco Massarotto, Partner HAGAKURE
+39 (0)27 601 5852 / marco@hagakure.it / @marcomassarotto
Germany: Thomas Praus, Partner P3000
+49 (0)30 805 799 682 / thomas.praus@p3000.net / @stylewalker
Switzerland: Florian Wieser, Partner coUNDco
+41 (0)44 440 1200 / wieser@coUNDco.ch / @floto
Netherlands: Uri Roos, Partner Fortress
+31 (0)206 611 506 / u.roos@frtrss.net / @uriroos
Spain: Rocío Núñez, Tinkle
+34 (0)91 787 7086 / rnunez@tinkle.es / @rocionunez
Austria: Sabine Hoffmann Founder & CEO ambuzzador
+43 (0)15 224 071 / sabine.hoffmann@ambuzzador.com / @actiongirl74
2726
If you have a challenging,
international Social PR brief
that requires an integrated
solution then we’d love to
hear from you.
Find your nearest
Box Network director on
www.boxnetworkeurope.com

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How to survive a shitstorm

  • 2. “You shouldn’t be intimidated by a crisis. The “golden minute” matters. Immediate internal coordination and forming.” Hannes Bliem | Swarovski “We found that quite a lot of pressure can be lifted by a quick reaction. Especially unacknowledged postings on weekends can turn toxic very quickly. It can be hard to recover the next day.” Daniel Schwarz | SBB Imprint: Media owner, publisher & issuer: Box Network Europe Editorial office: ambuzzador Marketing GmbH You can also find this crisis manual for download at www.boxnetworkeurope.com What is a Shitstorm? Every single day, brands and companies are challenged to deliver their opinion in the online discourse – often, it is important to constructively accept criticism and find good solutions for the stakeholders‘ concerns. But every now and then, emotions won’t be calmed down with factual arguments. During such a social media crisis, feelings run high, and the s*** really hits the fan. This is why in German, we coined the word „Shit- storm“: It describes that difficult situation for brand managers when you really need to keep a cool head. In this booklet, we have summarized “10 golden rules” for an easier hand- ling of crisis communication in Social Media: We wish you pleasurable reading – but in case of emergency, contact us directly, since every crisis exhibits its own dynamic! The Box Network “If there is sporadic criticism, other listeners step into the breach for us straight away.” Albert Malli | Ö3 “The speed of technical development is higher than our learning aptitude.” Gerhard Kürner | voestalpine 32
  • 3. HAPPYCHOCO This is Joe. Joe is the Social Media Ma- nager of HappyChoco Corporation. His Facebook community loves chocolate and is always good-humoured! But today is not a good day for Joe: Yesterday, a documentary about cocoa cultivation aired on TV, and it harshly criticized HappyChoco Corporation’s production plants ... 54
  • 4. Frida K. 5 minutes ago Are you going to comment on the documentary anytime soon??? Tamara C. 3 minutes ago You’re so mean! Never eating Happy- Choco again! Teresa D. 9 minutes ago Yeah right, HAPPY- Choco! Didn’t look all that HAPPY on TV last night. George T. 5 minutes ago Have you all seen the documentary yesterday? Boycott! Rosi B. 5 minutes ago @happychoco I’ll never buy your products again! Bert F. 5 minutes ago Stop it with your pretty TV spots, the production conditions are unbearable! Mark B. 6 minutes ago Here is the documentary on youtube – every- one watch it!!!!!!! Mirja B. 14 minutes ago I will never buyany of your products again! Patrick H. 12 minutes ago I’m telling all my friends about this! ... and all the critics now post on the Facebook- Page. On other Social Media channels, the community is piping up as well. 76
  • 5. Focus: Attention Trolls Trolls aren’t just tiny plastic figures with funny hair – on- line, they like to have fun by discussing all sorts of topics. They want to make their listeners (or readers) laugh. What now? The challenge here is to find the source of the issue. Don’t join the discussion – but if it goes well with your brand, show some humour. Typology of a shitstorm Stormers Stormers mainly want attention. Because of this, it’s in their interest to prolong the problem. What now? Give a factual statement about the issue, without adding fuel to the conflict. If possible, contact Stormers directly and make him the star of your solution.Activists The Activists care about the questions of principle: The way a company treats its customers, for example. They aren’t happy with a simple solution to the problem – they want to make sure that processes are changed. What now? A quick reaction is the key: Apologise and explain how the incident happened – and which provisions are made to avoid it in the future. Freeloaders These users take everything – as long as it is for free. Every problem is blown up as big as possible to get back a free sample or a coupon. What now? Find out if they really care about the issue or just want a gift. If necessary, apologise – but make no exceptions to the company’s reimbursement policy. If possible, try to contact Freeloaders directly and solve the problem outside of your Social Media channel. Focus: Topic Rational Emotional 98
  • 7. 1st mistake: Posting according to editorial plan 3rd mistake: Panic and random research 2nd mistake: Respond to all accusations individually HappyChoco 12 minutes ago Our new samples: Walnut whales! Tried it already? HAPPY CHOCO Mark B. 6 minutes ago Are you nuts? I’ll never eat anything from your company again! Tamara C. 3 minutes ago Nobody cares about your new chocolates! You better explain the accusations from the documentary!!! George T. 5 minutes ago Have you all seen the docu yesterday? Boycott! HappyChoco 12 minutes ago Hello, we always insist on written confirmation from all our suppliers to confirm they are working according to international guidelines. HAPPY CHOCO George T. 5 minutes ago WHY DON’T YOU GO THERE YOURSELVES, how about that?! Joe and his colleagues are overwhelmed: What to do? How should they handle the many allegations and postings? 1312
  • 8. 1. Define processes for official statements and approvals or reconfirm according to the crisis manual. 2. Promptly author a clear, factual statement with regards to content for the online community. 3. Official statement, centrally available for journalists, media and official institutions. 4. Issue Management: Collect, categorise, classify and verify allegations. Differentiated communication! 5. Inform employees and create awareness: They are image-holders too and should only communicate official statements – ideally, they keep out of the discussions. 10 Rules AT A GLANCE 6. Moderation instead of discussion: Pull the discussion into a distinct discussion board, in which the community can discuss the issue. 7. Put together clear rules for the duration of the shitstorm (internally and externally) and comply with them – transparently for everyone. Postings in breach of the rules (and thus against laws and morality) are taken out of the discussion – with a warning and reference to the rules. 8. During the crisis communication, only use standardised postings – as to not offer any new points of attack. 9. Involve law experts to know the state of affairs: about the issue itself, but also about the statutory violations on the Facebook wall. 10. Full documentation of the discussion is necessary for possible review with regards to content or law. 1514
  • 9. 1. Define processes for official state- ments and approvals or reconfirm according to the crisis manual. Promptly author a clear, factual statement for the online community. In a crisis manual, contact persons and processes are determined – ideally before the crisis. For different crisis scenarios, different measures are taken and different wordings used. The prepared wordings are adapted to the current crisis. Facts are described clearly and wrong accusations are invalidated. Important: Don’t be goaded into leaving an emotional statement – stay factual! 2. Happy Choco 3 minutes ago Dear friends of HappyChoco, there have been many discussions about the TV documentary “Happy Choco?” in the past few days. In terms of a transparent commu- nication, we would like to comment on the accusations made in the report. HAPPY CHOCO Crisis Manual 1716
  • 10. 3. Make an official statement centrally available. Collect, categorise, classify and verify allegations. Journalists and public institutions should be able to quote the statement first-hand. Proactive information is better than waiting for the shitstorm. Here, it’s important to stick to the “Lead of Communication”. Accusations are coming in thick and fast. That doesn’t mean you have to reply to every single one straight away – or that every single one is legitimate. Sort them and choose differentiated approaches. 4. Trolls Stormers Activists Freeloaders DOC PDF Statement Statement 1918
  • 11. 5. Inform employees and create awareness: You are image-holders too. Moderation instead of discussion: Pull the discussion into a distinct discussion board.All employees are speakers for the company as well – especially if they mention their employer in their Social Media profiles. The impulse to defend the own company is understandable. Despite that: Ideally, your colleagues don’t join the discussion. A discussion board on Facebook or on your website is the place for the official statement and the community’s discussion. Thus, the Facebook wall stays clear and service requests can be attended to. 6. Internal memo about TV-discussion HAPPY CHOCO 2120
  • 12. 7. Put together clear rules for the duration of the shitstorm and comply with them – transparently for everyone. Only use standardised postings during the crisis communication. Postings in breach of the rules (and thus against laws and morality) are taken out of the discussion with a warning and reference to the disclaimer. There is space for the rules in the Facebook disclaimer – for example, comments below the belt, personal insults and multiple postings can definitely be deleted after a warning. Transparency is very important here to avoid upsetting the community by arbitrariness. A clear answer with a link to the official statement or the discussion-forum prevents the Stormers from finding new points of attack. 8. D I S C L A I M E R The usage of our site is subject to the following rules: every user is responsible for his or her contribution. The user guarantees not to save any contents if usage is in direct violation of applicable law, especially the criminal code... HAPPY CHOCO Patrick H. 12 minutes ago I’m telling all my friends about this!! HappyChoco 3 minutes ago Hello, different production plantsof different chocolate producerswere portrayed in the documen-tary. Our chocolate is producedaccording to strict qualityguidelines. You can read all the details here:www.LinkToStatement.com HAPPY CHOCO George T. 5 minutes ago Have you all seen the docu yester- day? Boycott! 2322
  • 13. Hans Buzztard? 9. Involve law experts to know the state of affairs: About the issue itself, but also about statutory violations on the Facebook wall. Full documentation of the discussion – for possible review with regards to content or law. Research identities: Who are the notably dedicated Stormers and which (hidden) agenda do they follow? Research pays off for users who reply more often: Maybe a competitor or a disappointed ex-employee is behind the alias? If you know the Stormer’s agenda, you can react to the allegations more easily. 10. § 2524
  • 14. Box Network Europe is a smart network of like-minded, independent Social Media and Digital PR agencies. We deliver a wealth of specialist experience, languages, talent and coverage – including Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland beyond. We enable brands to select the best Social Media, PR and digital talent and coverage from within a box of international options. This helps our clients to manage creative campaign decisions at a global level and to execute programs at a local level to ensure relevance, timeliness and best approach. Operating as a box of independent agencies, we are able to ‘pick and mix’ skill sets and language requirements to deliver highly customised campaign teams. We have instant coverage, immediate scale and the ability to deploy best of breed skill sets across national and linguistic boundaries. About Box Network France: Claire Goyat, Partner cgo&co +33 (0)2 28 03 90 47 / cgoyat@cgoandco.com / @schrempfette Italy: Marco Massarotto, Partner HAGAKURE +39 (0)27 601 5852 / marco@hagakure.it / @marcomassarotto Germany: Thomas Praus, Partner P3000 +49 (0)30 805 799 682 / thomas.praus@p3000.net / @stylewalker Switzerland: Florian Wieser, Partner coUNDco +41 (0)44 440 1200 / wieser@coUNDco.ch / @floto Netherlands: Uri Roos, Partner Fortress +31 (0)206 611 506 / u.roos@frtrss.net / @uriroos Spain: Rocío Núñez, Tinkle +34 (0)91 787 7086 / rnunez@tinkle.es / @rocionunez Austria: Sabine Hoffmann Founder & CEO ambuzzador +43 (0)15 224 071 / sabine.hoffmann@ambuzzador.com / @actiongirl74 2726
  • 15. If you have a challenging, international Social PR brief that requires an integrated solution then we’d love to hear from you. Find your nearest Box Network director on www.boxnetworkeurope.com