The majority of hotels recognize the critical need for crisis response planning. But have they factored in social media? Over at Hotel Executive, Gary explains eight ways hotels can be effectively using social media during a crisis response.
Donald Trump has jumped to the top of the Republican primary polls with an acerbic style that runs contrary to established political rhetoric. But when Trump International made the announcement yesterday that it was hacked, the PR effort was by the book.
The Donald Trump Hotel chain says its payment data system was breached, potentially exposing customers’ credit and debit card information for more than a year. The chain posted a notice on their website and media coverage like this CBS report shows how to communicate a breach:
The Donald is in the crosshairs of many, so the New York Daily News and others took their shots, but coverage was once and done. As of now, they appear to have avoided what the IRS, Target and others have done – underestimate the extent of the damage in their initial reports, leading to multiple news reports and keeping the story alive.
I’m on my way back from The Clean Show, where there was tremendous interest in my TRSA-sponsored educational session, “Crisis Communications: A Practical Guide to Protecting Your Reputation.” Whether they were commercial laundry operators or others in the textile industry, attendees recognized the importance of communicating effectively in a crisis.
Among the highlights of my presentation were:
Following the presentation, TRSA hosted a press conference to unveil results of a new survey that reported business and consumer perspectives on service professionals wearing uniforms. The conference also unveiled the new TRSA animated video we developed with videographer Tom Donnelly.
Opening day on the trade show floor was eye opening with the size of the equipment and advanced technology used by the commercial laundry industry TRSA represents. For me, it was a valuable window into an important, far-reaching industry.
A crisis is a time of uncertainty that requires the careful management of information. If you don’t move quickly to present the facts and explain your position, then others will do it for you – and that puts the accuracy of the words and images they use beyond your control.
The words and images you use can either spell success and strengthen your future or damage your company’s reputation for years to come. The impact of social media on the crisis communications process has been significant.
Today information flows faster is more complex and independent. It is spread through multiple channels, and as a result, is often less reliable and more difficult to control. You often have just a few hours or minutes to communicate.
Social media must be fully integrated in your crisis communications plan. That means, your social networks are of equal import as other audiences and your community manager should be an effective communicator, as well as a media-savvy professional with appropriate technical skills.
Messaging must be also consistent with other channels, but appropriate for social networks. Candor is expected and an authentic voice is critical. And, as crisis communications is a two-way process, listening through your social networks can inform your communications with many different audiences.
Above all, you need to consider and plan for all contingencies. Each type of crisis should be considered. Social media will play a critical role in communicating during and after natural disasters, terrorist attacks, cyber breaches and, of course, crises created by social media. But also consider its role in financial crises, human resources issues and (in the insurance world) claims and service issues.
Join me on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 at 11 a.m. EST for the IMCA webcast, “Integrating Social Media in Crisis Communications,” where I’ll explore these issues in more detail.
It’s official. Ebola has scared the hell out of everyone. With Friday’s news story of a doctor in New York City being diagnosed and today’s “testing” of a 5-year-old boy for Ebola as well in the Big Apple, hysteria is sure to hit new heights.
However, as public relations professionals, our job is to offer wise council in times of crisis. We must anticipate how this latest news impacts our partners and determine how best to help them inform and better educate their audiences. A myriad of businesses can find themselves in the center of a media storm as Friday’s NYC media coverage demonstrated.
So the best advice for businesses is to start with facts.
For those businesses being asked about Ebola risks and protocols – and the public’s perception of your business’ Ebola risk – there are five steps to take quickly:
A sixth but less urgent step is to revisit your crisis communications plans at the conclusion of this latest pubic health scare to fine tune your policies and procedures so you are better prepared next time. And trust me, there will be a next time.
Some small business owners don’t believe in using experts for social media engagement and content development. They see the practice as novel and unproven – until it isn’t.
Such is the case of The Union Street Guest House in Hudson, N.Y. This picturesque small town inn quickly discovered the demonstrative impact of social media when comments about a fines-for-reviews policy hit the inn’s Facebook page and Yelp, the popular online review site.
According to an ABC News story resulting from the social media dust-up, the inn claims its “policy” was posted to its website as a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding from years ago and should have been taken down. The policy in essence stated bridal parties would be fined $500, taken from deposit monies, for each negative review the inn might receive connected to a particular wedding or event.
Unfortunately, a simple Google search of the inn’s name now produces both a link to the inn’s website, as well as countless social media and news articles referencing this not-so-amusing policy.
The result is a Search Engine Optimization nightmare for the inn coupled with a runaway train of negative comments on its Facebook page (more than 200 at this writing; although it appears the inn may now be deleting posts from its Facebook page).
The news coverage and social media firestorm – with only a half-hearted response from management that appears to have since been deleted – have created a massive public relations problem to overcome. This isn’t the type of crisis you wait out. And without a strategy for responding to and recovering from this communications nightmare, The Union Street Guest House is likely to see a steep decline in business, assuming it has the wherewithal to survive at all.
Small businesses are successful because they do what they do well. Where they often fail is when they try to do something outside of their expertise.
By consulting with a social media professional or brand content specialist, small businesses can avoid errors – even tongue-in-cheek responses – that might not seem substantial at the time, but with an extra set of trained eyes, can be seen for the potential disasters they are and thus avoided. Alternatively, bringing in the professionals after a crisis has erupted is not optimal, but it can mean the difference between staying in business or going under.
Most freelancers or public relations agencies can find equitable arrangements with small businesses that won’t break the bank, and can avoid or attempt to correct business-ending mistakes.
For a free consultation on how working with a public relations agency can help protect and promote your business, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the shadow of the Boston Marathon tragedy, it’s painfully apparent – if it wasn’t before – that crisis scenarios are part of our collective new normal. From threats of terrorism and senseless acts of violence, to economic chaos and world events, crisis events can easy overtake the best-laid plans of any business.
At these times, there is a balance to be struck between business operations and consideration of outside events. Customers don’t want to be marketed to and reporters don’t want your new product press release in times of crisis. In addition, your own employees – even many miles removed from events – might struggle to cope with news from towns like Boston, Aurora, Colo., Sandy Hook, Conn., West, Texas, and others.
What do you say or do as a business owner or manager? Your response in such times must be genuine, sensitive to events and true to the culture of your organization. There is no one-size-fits-all communication solution.
However there are three things you should not do in a crisis. Don’t:
While you cannot plan for every eventuality, a good Crisis Communications Plan will best ensure your brand is protected while also being sensitive to events outside of your control.