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:

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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.

References

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.
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