ADPR InsightConsumer PRSocial MediaTop Tips 18.05.2018

Social media crisis simulation

Earlier this month Liberty and Sam attended the PRCA’s Social Media Crisis Training.

The training involved crisis simulation, providing a totally immersive role-play situation, designed to teach teams how to handle the real-life experience of managing a business crisis on social media.

Simulation software mimics social media channels – social networks, news channels, video networks, microblogs, blogs and forums – and gives the team the experience of managing an unfolding crisis using a private online environment.

Liberty and Sam’s crisis simulation scenario started with a series of social media posts from a disgruntled ex-employee. Quite rightly, the teams began by trying to contact him directly to resolve the situation. As the conversation gained tract and the situation escalated, it became clear the teams wouldn’t be able to respond to everyone individually who was posting about the issue.

One hot topic was whether to focus on responding to individuals. The risk here is as increasing numbers of people join in the conversation, the harder it is to respond to everyone. If journalists and influencers are then left unanswered as a result, it could have a serious impact on reputation.

Employees can really help a company weather the storm if they’re kept informed. Pinned posts and statements issued regularly across all platforms is a great way to speak to a mass audience, when the situation means you are unable to respond to all posts.

A social media crisis simulation is the closest thing possible to a real crisis, but responses can be conducted in a secure, closed environment. The way in which these simulations are handled allows for the process to be reviewed and improved upon. This means when faced with a real-life crisis, a business can be confident in the process which have been put in place.

Liberty reflects on the training session, “This was a great opportunity as we were able to rehearse, learn and make mistakes in private, enabling us to redesign and improve our social media crisis response plan.”

Sam adds, “Preparation is key when it comes to managing a crisis. Having the opportunity to work out how to use each member of the team’s strengths effectively and to review strategies in real-time was really valuable in ensuring that we feel confident handling a social media crisis.”

In a crisis situation, you need to get information out fast, in order to be the voice of authority and remain in control of the conversation. Here’s how you can prepare for a social media crisis:

  1. Have someone on your team who has the authority to sign off statements on behalf of the business.
  2. Prepare statements in advance. You can pretty much predict the types of crisis you might face and prepare examples of appropriate comms to use when responding to each situation.
  3. Have clear crisis roles defined in advance. Knowing who has responsibility for what is crucial in a crisis. If the CEO has sole responsibility for signing off on comms, and they are uncontactable when a crisis hits, what happens?
  4. Trust your team. If you’re going to respond quickly, you must trust the team in charge of comms to do the right thing.

For more on our crisis comms and digital and social media advice, see ADPR’s Consumer PR 101 or simply pick up the phone for a quick chat: 01460 241641, or drop us an email:

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