September 11, 2015
PR can show you how to take control of your online image
Have you ever watched a small snowball roll downhill? If you don’t stop it, it keeps gathering more snow until it’s too big to handle. One negative comment or bit of incorrect information about your company on social media can create the same phenomenon as that small snowball.
Therefore, it is vital to your business that you manage social media content before it develops into a crisis. With help from PR, you can take control of your image and reputation.
Why it’s important
Consider the current case of Huggies baby wipes. Moms noticed that the wipes had a sparkly sheen, which excited concern nationwide that the product contained small shards of glass. The situation exploded on Facebook and other social media outlets, where moms posted videos of themselves demonstrating the product’s sparkly nature. The original video that started it all got more than 20 million views and was shared approximately 700,000 times.
The news media quickly caught on, generating even more interest and negative publicity, causing the situation to snowball into a full-blown crisis. This forced the company to go on the defensive, running lab tests and issuing multiple statements.
By now, you may have forgotten that the original claim had no basis in fact; it was just someone posting an opinion about the appearance of the product.
It doesn’t take much of an imagination to realize that this kind of situation can happen to you, or to any other company. Thanks to the unfettered speed on the information superhighway, a post or comment can go viral in just a few hours.
This means that a joke, insensitive comment from an employee or review from a disgruntled customer has the potential to affect your company and your profits for months or even years after the fact. Any time you spend managing the crisis and trying to reclaim the public’s trust is time you would have better spent on attracting new business and growing your company.
What you can do
Be aware. You can’t do anything about a crisis if you don’t know it exists. Closely monitor mentions of your company on social media to know what people are saying about you, your product, your service and your people.
Be proactive. Once you know what’s out there, don’t just ignore it. You need to address and fix negative comments and information. For example, if you start to see complaints about poor customer service at your company, you may have to retrain your staff. Then, let consumers know how you are working to fix the issue. Also, don’t forget to thank and reward the fans who make positive comments.
Be prepared. When a situation does develop into a crisis (either on- or offline), be ready to handle it. Have a crisis communications plan in place so that you don’t get caught completely off-guard and you can hit the ground running.
Be transparent. The more consumers know about your company, what you stand for and how you operate, the less likely they will be to go on the attack. They may also be more willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and extra time while you work through the issue.
Be smart. Hire the right PR firm to help you. Your in-house PR staff is probably already overwhelmed handling the promotion and communications necessary for a medium or large company. Handling social media is a time-consuming task and crises can get complicated. It’s best to call in professionals for assistance and advice.
The experts at Axia Public Relations can help you manage social media and defend your brand. Contact us today or download our Online Reputation Management e-book for more information on how we work to keep a few bad apples (or snowballs) from ruining your company’s future.
Lisa Goldsberry is a writer for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business, higher education and technology PR. Connect with Axia Public Relations on Twitter