The AV Blog: Social media is a pivotal power tool in times of crisis

Transforming negative press into positive outcomes


By Megan Patrick, Digital Media Executive


When access to news is as instantaneous as it is today, when you can see what’s happening worldwide before you leave your bed in the morning, what happens if you, or your company, come under fire from the pace of modern technology?


Social media is integral to any 21st century organisation. To ignore it is to turn down the opportunity to immediately reach unprecedented numbers of your key stakeholders, be they your staff, clients, customers and even your competitors.


However, having a presence on social media can come at a cost. Any company is immediately open for criticism and accountable for its perceived actions even before any hard facts and information become available. Your business can come under direct fire as you are easily accessible.


Anybody has the right to an opinion, regardless of whether it is reasonable or is even based in fact, and sites such as Facebook and Twitter provide the platform to instantly voice it to any number of people. Prior to the advances of this technological communication, no such option existed without going through longer processes.


While this might seem like a reason to shy away from social media, smart businesses use this as a highly powerful crisis management tool. Not somewhere to just post updates and cool company news, but a place to fight for and defend your reputation.


Rather than being vulnerable to the cyber-omnipresence of the outside world, companies who are pro-active with social media can use it very much to their advantage when problems arise, speaking to many interested parties at once to engage, offer reassurance and ensure their voice is being heard.


That ability to respond to matters directly, from the horse’s mouth and without media spin, is a modern and vital opportunity that organisations can seize. Done with a properly thought out plan and executed intelligently, it really can save, restore or build your reputation.


This exact situation panned out this week following the release of a report by the Work and Pensions Select Committee in regard to rising funeral costs. Our partners at the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) came unfairly under fire from the report's authors, potentially causing damage to the reputation of both individual businesses and the wider profession.


Campaigning to rectify the damaging name given in certain media reports, specifically the “undertakers’ rip off price rises” featuring in one national tabloid headline, the immediacy of social media allows you an instant response.


An email and a tweet in the right, specific direction and ten minutes later a line from the NAFD appears and your voice is being heard. It gives companies the chance to instantly engage with stakeholders and correct any misconceptions.


While work had been done the previous evening to ensure that all national media outlets had the NAFD position, the Association was able to track where the story was being talked about during the day and directly tweet/message the relevant organisations with a link to its statement.


By engaging in such a manner, the reputation of the Association was being upheld, its point of view was being well considered and publicised, and its member firms could see that it was fighting their corner.

All of which shows that you are on the ball and that you care enough to talk to customers, clients and stakeholders, which helps strengthens and builds relationships. Knowing what you’re doing with social media can not only benefit and promote an organisation, it can transform negative press into positive outcomes. 


Social media is a powerful tool and should play a pivotal role in your crisis communications strategy. Whether its working with or against you, in being proactive and up-to-date with its advances you are being handed endless opportunities.

If you are interested in learning more about how social media can play a vital role in your crisis communications planning, give us a call for a chat.


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