Handling a Crisis on Social Media
By Didi Lutz President, Didi Lutz PR | October 2011
At one time or another, we have all seen examples of how positive news travels fast on the Internet, but how bad news travels even faster. With social media entering our world and growing each day, news spreads in an instant. This immediacy inevitably affects your reputation. Being in a vulnerable position of not knowing which way pendulum will swing is an uncomfortable feeling – especially when a crisis hits your hotel. Everyone and anyone have an opinion that is easily shared on social media. That is tremendous power and influence for the public to have over a message.
In times of crisis, as I have written in the past, the main goal was to contain the media. Usually, this was done by implementing crisis management tactics that included press releases, press conferences, advocacy ads and other traditional approaches to shift negative perception. Those days are long gone.
We're in an era where if the PR person cannot create a YouTube video of a CEO in a matter of a couple of hours, or respond with an emergency blog post within an hour or so, the damage to the company's reputation can be worse than imagined. Working against the clock is one of the most important factors in today's crisis management.
One thing that remains the same as traditional crisis management is the essence of pre-planning. With social networks and conversations going on everywhere on the internet, it is important to create, or re-create, scenarios that could affect your property, and come up with proper tactics (and micro-tactics) to tackle the crisis. What is important to keep in mind is to fight back with the same weapons. In other words, if a crisis starts on Facebook with nasty comments from unhappy guests, make sure you engage and address the issue via Facebook – not a press release or a Twitter post, for instance.
Understanding the new rules of the crisis management game is important to protecting your hotel's reputation. Below are some pointers to consider as you put together a social media crisis management plan:
Think before you post. This is the advice we usually get from parents and teachers, but it is true for social media crises as well. Be sure you know who will be tackling which posts, on which network, and agree on specific talking points your team will have to stick to. In less formal conversations, we sometimes share more than we should and this can be a trap if your message isn't carefully crafted from the beginning.
Avoid using just one network, but use those that make sense