Today, one of the biggest challenges a brand has a crisis that goes splat all over the social media. While, there are many experts, from digital to corporate who are on board to handle such an event, what about the under 30 PR professionals? Are they prepared to handle a crisis like this which could fall into their lap sooner or later as they go up their career ladder?
Richa Seth, account director (integrated marketing communications), Adfactors PR says that faced with a social media crisis, she would first,” Analyse the issue if it is a customer complaint with after sales service provided or a shareholder of the company expressing his grudge with the board on a certain decision that is made. Once the exact problem has been identified and facts of the matter is well understood, make sure that you are quick to respond to the stakeholder. Also, be very cautious of having only the first and last conversation on the public timeline, rest of the details should be discussed offline and resolved.”
Sharing the example of the telecom service providers as a sector that is good with social media management, Seth points out that, “They are quick to respond to customer complaints and grudges on Twitter, they have a policy of responding to all queries within 24hrs, the first response usually acknowledges the problem and requests for details to connect offline. The service team then connects with the customer offline and helps resolve the problems, once done and confirmed; the company makes sure to conclude the conversation back again on Twitter stating that the concern has been resolved.”
Ankita Vaid, public relations executive says a simple strategy would work best, “I have personally not been into a crisis till now but the best way to come out is an immediate apology on the social media platforms. The most recent case I remember is of Burger King whose Twitter handle got hacked and the person started promoting McDonald’s. The moment they got the control the first thing they did was to apologize and that worked. They were able to turn this into a PR opportunity.”
Pratishtha Kaura, senior account executive says the tonality of response is most important, especially for vulnerable sectors like e-commerce, “Merely saying, “We are considering the matter and will resolve at the earliest.” which is actually a stand taken by many brands will not answer the customer’s query. Instead saying, “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to you. Please share your order no and we will resolve it at the earliest.”
What’s on your social media to-do list?
Are younger PR professionals up to date with their social media skills? This would reflect not only in their knowledge and skills but also to what extent they have built up their own social media profiles.
For Kaura, learning that all elusive trick to cracking viral content is key. She says, “With respect to social media and PR, what I want to learn is the strategy that works amongst the consumers to make something viral. Secondly, strategy of asking users to create content – user generated content is again something I would like to learn.”
While, even experts admit, with all the preparation in the world one cannot say what makes content viral, Kaura also has her eye on learning about Chatbots as a trend that would affects news media as well and therefore of interest to PR pros, “ChatBots have emerged as medium that news sites are using to make news reading a personalized experience for each person. Globally, Quartz uses it and in India, NDTV has started using it. The future is bright and how ChatBots can actually revolutionize news media is what I want to learn about.”
Seth is focusing her social media learning on, “Creative writing tools such as creating Infographics, short video, building a timeline for a client are some of the tools that I am currently focusing on from online resources and internal training organized by Adfactors PR.”
Keeping a social media profile
It’s often a matter of some surprise how few PR pros are personally active about PR on social media. So, it’s refreshing to hear that professionals like Kaura are beginning to change that. She says, “. Since I blog on PR and communications industry from time to time, I use LinkedIn Pulse to reach to my connections and in turn a wider audience as well. My Twitter account will also have tips and tweets on PR landscape and how people are using innovative PR strategies. My Twitter handle is PR_Wali, a quirky one as I am passionate for PR as a profession and I want my identity to be established as one who wants to contribute towards the betterment of the industry.”
Seth, meanwhile, focuses on using social media for media contacts and on PR focused online groups saying,” Yes, I am connected to many journalists on Twitter where some of them do broadcast a message about their forthcoming stories and the required inputs. I also explore Facebook groups for exploring industry trend stories for clients across sectors and lastly, there are Whatsapp groups like Indian PR Forum that share media story opportunities day in and day out.”