Where is social media’s place within crisis communication?

A crisis is defined as a situation with the perception of being an unpredictable event, is sudden and developing and falls under close media or government scrutiny (Coombs, 2007).

Although these situations are unpredictable they must be adequately prepared for by businesses and responded to effectively. Failing to do this can have serious negative impact on a businesses performance, relationships, public image and bottom line (McLean, 2009).

Brands can use social media as an effective tool in responding to a crisis as it allows for fast, open and direct communication (Fisher, 2013).

Johnston and Zawawi in Public Relations Theory & Practice outline 10 steps for effective crisis communication:

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 9.40.58 pm

Effectively using social media in response can turn a crisis into an opportunity.

For example, when a video went viral of a FedEx delivery guy throwing a customers “fragile” package over their fence the CEO of the company created his own online video in response. This video received over 500, 000 views and not only handled the crisis effectively but also enhanced the image of the company. This was achieved as it revealed successful company management, connected to consumers and allowed for reiteration of the companies values.


Coombs, W. T. (2007).  Protecting organization reputations during a crisis: The development and application of situational crisis communication theory. Corporate Reputation Review, 10, 1-14.
Fisher, S. (2013). 3 Great examples of crisis management on social media. SpinWeb. http://blog.spinweb.net/3-great-examples-of-crisis-management-on-social-media
Johnston, J., & Zawawi, C., (Eds.) (2009). Public Relations; Theory & Practice (3/e), St. Leonards, NSW: Allen and Unwin
McLean, H. and Power, M. (2009). Crisis Command. Strategies for Managing Corporate Crises. London: Ark.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s