A crisis could be defined as many different things. Typically, a crisis is a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. To a company, anything from a natural disaster to a bank robbery could be considered a crisis. Many companies turn to social media in times of crisis because of its accessibility and convenience.
Social media can be used by companies to communicate action plans and updates to the public. A crisis is typically something that affects many people, whether it’s personally or indirectly. In class this week, we talked about the importance of having some kind of action plan in place before a crisis occurs, so that when the time comes employees know how to react. Having a proactive plan in place helps to train employees to know how to convey, or not convey, the message to the public via social media.
Among many advantages, social media is quick, easy, and free which makes it an attractive platform to reach a large audience on. However, social media always has its downfalls. Things can easily go viral on social media, which may not always be a good thing when a company is being poorly represented because unfortunately, not everyone is trained in communications.
One example of where communication went totally wrong during a time of crisis was during the BP oil spill in 2010 when former chief executive Tony Hayward made a less than enthusiastic public apology.
“I’m sorry. We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives. There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I’d like my life back.”
Following up on all the negative backlash, Hayward made a second apology, apologizing for his first.
The important thing to take away from this is that not just anyone can be a public face. People need to be trained with the skills to be able to handle a crisis if one should occur. Companies should have plans in place that prevent insincere apologies, or viral misinformation or anything else that could potentially ruin a professional reputation. Having a plan is never a bad idea.