Crisis Management & Current Communications Phenomena

Instructor: LeRon Haire
In today's world, social media and viral communications can speed up a public relations crisis. This lesson will examine how this happens along with strategies for handling these issues.

The Relationship Between Social Media and PR Issues

In the world we live in today, it seems as if negative events often snowball into public relations disasters. One of the reasons that this occurs is due to the ever-evolving nature of technology and, more specifically, social media and viral communications. How do social media and viral communications accelerate a public relations crisis, and what types of techniques can be implemented to handle these issues? Let's take a look at the following paragraphs to answer this question.

Viral Communication

Words are the most powerful part of viral communications.

Viral Communication can be defined as the process or procedure that is used to generate news by word of mouth. When it comes to handling a public relations crisis, viral communication, through the use of social media and other 24-hour news cycles, can often speed along the problem. For example, let's say that a popular restaurant chain has encountered a public relations crisis by denying a restaurant patron service because of their political affiliations. In past decades, such issues may not have been made known to others outside of that particular business.

However, in today's climate of instant gratification, social media provides just that by being able to give immediate and up-to-the-minute details on such negative events. The everyday social media user is able to hear about the PR fiasco and, within minutes, post this news through the use of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat to name a few examples.

Along with posting the PR crisis issue, social media also gives users the ability to simply re-post or re-tweet (for Twitter users) the problem. For example, you may have people who are too busy to post the news about what happened with the restaurant patron but still wish to inform others about the issue. Social media allows these people to simply re-send the message that was originally posted by others, which saves them time.

Strategies for Handling PR Crisis Issues

It is important that organizations and businesses of all types maintain some form of PR crisis management that they can rely on when these types of instances occur. Why is it important for businesses to have fire extinguishers? Or for cars to have spare tires? The reason is so that businesses and car drivers can be prepared for the unexpected, and the same goes for PR crisis management preparation. Here are some strategies that can be implemented to help with dealing with a PR crisis that is being expedited due to viral communication and social media.

React Swiftly to the News

When an organization or a business is dealing with a public relations crisis and the news has been spread through viral communication and social media, it is imperative that the organization react swiftly to this news. Have you ever seen or heard of someone who has been accused of something and, instead of defending themselves, they choose to remain silent? Often, this may be misinterpreted as an admission of guilt. Since perception is reality, it is important that an organization jumps ahead of the PR crisis by immediately responding to any mention of the issue on social media. The response should acknowledge what has happened along with steps that are being taken to remedy the situation.

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