One nasty Internet troll can quickly become the bane of a business. One overlooked Tweet can sink a brand. And one negative Facebook comment can ripple across other social media channels—and eventually reach mainstream media headlines.
You can protect your company—and your career—by pinpointing and managing online annoyances before they grow into crises. Here are three digital PR tips for doing just that:
1. Don’t rely on Alerts. Google Alerts will notify you of newly found content, not where that content is ranked.
In any crisis, it’s important to know what brand-related content people are finding on the first page of search results, given that over 90 percent of searchers don’t go past page one of the results, says Josh Dahmes, chief digital officer at Risdall Marketing Group.
His advice: “Search for your brand and personal names at least once a month to see what shows up in the results. Be sure to use Google and Bing, as there will be differences. Searches on Twitter and Facebook can also be helpful, but should not be as high a priority.”
He also suggests using a variety of attack words like “die,” “sucks” and “I hate” in conjunction with your brand name when conducting searches.
2. Get visual. Generating new content during crises provides two benefits: It delivers your side of the story and can push adverse content lower in search results.
Dahmes recommends focusing on visual formats to maximize consumer retention. “After 72 hours, people will remember 10 percent of what they read, 65 percent of what they saw and 95 percent of what they watched,” he explains.
He suggests creating videos whenever possible, with these caveats: Keep it simple. Limit background visual noise, and be careful to match the tone of the occasion—whether somber, hopeful or apologetic.
“Speed is more important than shot quality,” Dahmes adds, “so don’t wait for the sun to come out if you don’t have to.”
3. Create an elevation plan. Ensure that every employee monitoring your social channels and online presence knows the right procedures for responding to damaging content or comments.
One way is to create an elevation plan for your team. This is simply a system of if/then statements that guides social media engagement. Here’s an example, courtesy of David Armano:
Don’t overcomplicate it, Dahmes says: “Make it easy to follow and practice regular run-throughs with team members on how/when to elevate or respond.”
Brian Pittman is a consultant to Ragan Communications and webinar manager for PR Daily’s PR University. Jim Lukaszewski and Josh Dahmes will share more digital and social media crisis insights in the rescheduled June 4 PR University webinar, “Digital-Crisis PR Boot Camp: Neutralize social media attacks, turn the tide.”