Crisis management in the social media age

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As communication has become nearly instantaneous today, the need to quickly and actively address a crisis before an irreparable amount of damage is done is a necessity for any corporation.

Nearly instantaneous communication is performed as quickly as the keys can be punched on a keyboard. Consider all of the internet’s social media and blogs and you will realize just how quickly damage can be done. Where is the damage done first? Here are some of the Internet’s most fertile breeding grounds for a potentially damaging online chat:

* Twitter
* YouTube
* Influential blogs
* Facebook
* Myspace

While these are far from the only areas that can cause damage to a reputation, they are definitely some of the key areas requiring a response. These sites are not only extremely high in traffic, but they also make information, pictures, and videos available online immediately upon submission. So, within minutes of a negative posting taking place, your stakeholders have the ability to search the web and read a critical comment on these sites. The information may or may not be valid, but from a reputational standpoint, it must be addressed.

Today, if a crisis management audit issue is ignored, it is considered true until proven otherwise. This means that regardless of the validity of gossip or rumours floating around the web or elsewhere, corporate reputation management must be handled quickly and professionally. A false report that is allowed to spread without any attempt to contain or reverse it can be a death sentence to an otherwise flourishing company. Because people love a juicy rumour – particularly one that sheds a negative light on a reputable corporation or person – harmful reports travel fast.

This means that you must have the ability to monitor and identify online comment, and the resources and people ready and able to respond to it. Having this expertise to hand is essential as damage control must begin immediately to effectively protect the corporate reputation. The fact is that “innocent until proven guilty” does not apply to public opinion of anyone that appears in the headlines of newspapers, blogs, or social media. And the truth is, if the information hits one area of the media, chances are it will quickly make its way to every other part of the media.

Seeking professional advice

The best advice is to seek out a crisis management audit specialist to handle corporate reputation management before you have the need for it. You never know when you will encounter an accident, incident, emergency, or become someone’s unsuspecting target and need to be able to respond quickly and effectively. Protect your reputation and that of your company by having a skilled and experienced person on call in case a situation arises. You may never need them – but you’ll certainly be glad they’re around if you or your company become the subject of unwanted chatter.

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