Crisis Communications


Last week we attended ‘One Tweet Away From Disaster’ – a CIPR South West event in Bristol talking all things crisis comms in the digital age. Though we’re not at liberty to share the sensitive information that was discussed (there were some great case studies!), we can pass on some of the key takeaways:


1. Have a social media policy in place

For any large/ high profile organisation, a solid social media policy should be the bare minimum of your digital crisis communication plan. New employees should be given a copy when they join your corporation and regular training provided to remind existing employees about how they should conduct themselves and represent the company online.

2. Talk to the right people

Before the comms team goes into firefighting mode it’s important to regroup and consult with your bosses, HR and legal representatives to make sure that you’re all singing from the same hymn book and play a part in tackling the issue at hand. After a plan is in place internal and external statements can be drafted and circulated – where possible these should come from the CEO.

3. When a crisis erupts, cease all digital activity

Cancel your scheduled tweets and postpone that e-newsletter until you’ve dealt with the crisis at hand, the last thing you want to do is unintentionally make a problem bigger than it already is – anyone remember this poorly timed tweet from Tesco during the horsemeat scandal?

horsemeat4. Trolls

Never, we repeat, never, engage with Trolls. They can be abusive and damaging to the reputation of your company but you must always rise above the twitter-storm and work on making the story as short-lived as possible (ideally less than 48 hours).

5. Keep a record of everything

From screenshotting online posts, to conversations with the press, statements issued and HR actions, you never know when you might need to refer back to the event – even if it’s just to safeguard against similar problems in the future. Keep track of all media coverage and monitor the situation to see what is being said.