Are You Paying Attention?

Awesome article by Jeff Cole who owns JJC Communications

Planning for crisis communications should be a key part of every company’s marketing planning. I have preached that to clients for years. It might seem obvious to many people, but the rise of social media has changed the response to a crisis from hours to sometimes minutes. People who don’t get that always amaze me.
I am not talking about a plant fire or an accident. There might be actually more time to respond to the media on one of those. Most people understand that the average executive doesn’t have time during the event to respond to questions. It is perfectly acceptable to say in such a case that the causes will be dealt with once the immediate crisis is over.
What I am talking about is an information crisis, which can often more damaging that a physical disaster. The fallout from a physical disaster can be mitigated. Unless it is dealt with right away, a consumer complaint or an even an unfounded can spread around the Internet is a matter of minutes.
Even though Mark Twain died 80 years before the rise of the Internet, he summed it up correctly when he said: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Actually, I think a lie can make it all the way around the world before truth gets out of bed.

Part of the problem is many companies still don’t pay attention. I am always amazed that any corporation will spend millions on advertising, but very little on reputation monitoring and management. To not keep track of company reputation is committing business suicide.
One of my firm rules of is that social media can kill you before you even know are bleeding. Someone needs to be watching 24/7. Remember that old saying that “the sun never sets on the British Empire.” That was because the English had colonies on almost every continent. Well, the Internet has a much a wider reach than the Empire ever did.
Facebook alone has over 500 million followers. Twitter is somewhere north of 100 million. If someone posts on Facebook an error your company made, and it goes viral, you could wake up in the morning to find your reputation trashed.
Look at the companies that have run into trouble because of their Internet ignorance: Proctor & Gamble’s Motrin, Comcast, United Airlines, Kryptonite Bike Locks, L’Oreal, Dell Computers, Wal-Mart, Jet Blue – the list goes on and on. (My thanks to SMI for its short history of social media screw-ups.)
Some of those companies learned their lesson and started paying attention to what as happening on the ‘Net. I am not sure others get it even after being punched around.
The only way to deal with is to be proactive. As I have also always preached, you have to be part of the conversation about your brand. It is essential. That’s why I always tell clients that they need to hear the bad comments more than the good. Good comments reinforce what you are already doing. It is valuable to know that so you can expand whatever worked.
Bad comments will tell you where you are making mistakes. That’s more important. Responding to a consumer complaint can build good will. Personally I find I like a place that is willing to own up to a mistake. It shows me they care.
Plus by doing that, a crisis is usually headed-off. If a company doesn’t respond to customer concerns and complaints, the whole thing can grow and get really ugly.
The take away from this is pay attention all time or be willing to pay the cost when you don’t.

Contact Night Owl today. We will be your proactive solution for crisis communications.

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