Every brand manager’s worst nightmare would be a PR crisis and understandably so. While it might take years to earn goodwill or to build a strong brand reputation, a single negative review could literally seal your brand’s fate. PR crisis management is one of the many use cases of social listening and comes in very handy to foresee, prevent and even completely avoid such disasters.
What is a PR Crisis?
“Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad”
PR crisis moments are not rare. Big brands like KFC, Starbucks, Pepsico, and Taco Bell have all had such crisis moments. Responding well and in time becomes the actual challenge.
PR crises can be disturbing. With the global reach of social media and the Internet, it takes seconds for a story to spread like a wildfire, even if it is just a rumor. Social media can be both your enemy and your friend when it comes to PR crisis management.
Every time a product or a service fails, the brand/company faces a backlash on social media. In 2014, General Motors faced such a crisis when fatalities occurred in car crashes where a design fault in the ignition prevented the airbags from deploying. Samsung too had its share, when the battery on the Galaxy Note 7 was found to overheat and even explode. Both GM and Samsung recalled their faulty products. General Motors created a special website just to educate people about the incident. Samsung used the internet, emails and text messages to recall its products on a global scale, even though the incident was limited to less than 0.1% of the volume of the phones it sold.
Prevent a Potential PR Crisis Before it Spreads
You will not be able to avoid crisis moments at all times. However, you could stay vigilant for the crises which could happen on social media. It is really crucial for any business to be able to extinguish the fire of a social media PR crisis before it blows out of all proportion. How can you possibly do it? The answer is very simple. Pay attention to the growing chatter online and respond to sentiments around your brand on social media using the most inexpensive and easy ways of PR crisis management: through social listening.
Plan Before You Post
It is wise to brainstorm and plan your content before you post anything online. Also, be sensitive to the content you decide to post. Social media posts can go viral within seconds, so if you realize the fault in your post late, chances are that it is already doing rounds on the Internet, being shared onwards and going viral. It would matter little that you deleted your original post. If you have a problem planning for content or a topic to associate your brand with, social listening could be your hero. Listening to the comments around your brand or industry could help you understand the key interest areas of your target audience. Social listening also provides you with the opportunity to learn from any mistakes/successes of your competitors. Keep an eye on their social activities. Take note of their social media policies and how they deal with crisis situations.
Listen to Pay Heed
The most straight forward way to use social listening for PR crisis management is to listen to the chatter and analyze the sentiments of people. What do they think? Are they happy with your brand? Do you have a large following, if yes, how can you grow it further? If not, why not and what can you do to make amends and start afresh? The answers to all these questions come from social listening and are indicative of any future positive/negative reviews you might receive.
If you see negative sentiment building around your brand, the simplest solution lies in taking corrective action. Paying heed to the opinions of your customers and taking steps to resolve their problems will gain you a loyal customer-base while averting a possible PR crisis.