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Responding to a PR Crisis Using Social Media

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Amanda Ashworth, a writer for Yahoo! Business to Community, recently wrote an article that said it best — “the fact is, no matter how unlikely you think it is to happen, social media can have a huge impact on your reputation if you are not prepared. In 2013, burying your head in the sand and ignoring social media is simply not an option.”

Ashworth is referring to a company’s ability to respond to a crisis, such as a public relations scandal, and how social media can be an aid. According to Ashworth, there is “a clear indication that businesses are becoming increasingly more aware of the importance of social media in handling a crisis … the fact is, that if your business doesn’t have the strategy in place to identify criticism early, decide on a course of action quickly and then communicate it efficiently to your stakeholders, then you simply don’t stand a chance.”

Unfortunately, while being an aid in a crisis, social media can also be the source of company gaffes. Take the Red Cross, for example. What could a company devoted completely to helping people possibly do wrong? Well, tweeting about #gettingslizzered comes to mind. Apparently, an employee meant to post the declaration to their personal Twitter account, and posted it to the company’s account instead.

Fortunately, the Red Cross was able to handle the discretion quickly, and swiftly, using social media — the same thing that had gotten it into hot water. According to MDGAdvertising, the Red Cross posted a follow-up tweet that said, “We’ve deleted the rouge tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”

MDGAdvertising said this tactic worked, mainly due to the Red Cross’ quick response.

What should you take away from this? In the wake of a crisis, social media is a weapon that can be used in your aid, or against it, and timeliness is key. Say your front desk manager takes the route of the Red Cross employee, and accidentally posts an embarrassing tweet – don’t ignore it! Respond quickly, and if the tweet was mostly innocent, try and make light of it. Or, if the tweet was extremely offensive, take the opposite route, and sincerely apologize!

According to Ashworth, the “Golden Hour,” or the time period in which companies have to respond to a crisis, has recently been cut down to 15 minutes. As an example, Ashworth highlighted Kitchen Aid. She said, “When a member of Kitchen Aid’s social media team inadvertently sent a derogatory tweet about President Obama’s grandmother during the first Presidential debate, and did so from the company account rather than a personal one, it was only very rapid action that saved the reputation of a respected American brand.”

In closing, Ashworth said, “Whether you end up ever actually using social media for crisis management, ‘attempting to leverage social media for the first time during a crisis can cause more harm than good’, according to Andrew Walls, research vice president at Gartner.” Gartner is a leader in information technology research, and an advisory company.

Has a crisis every happened to your health club, either a social media one, or otherwise, and how did you respond? Did you use social media to aid you in your recovery?

 

Rachel Zabonick is the Assistant Editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@clubsolutionsmagazine.com. Reach out to her about exciting events or programs your club has implemented, or to share the amazing accomplishments of a member.

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Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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