Seventy per cent of public relations and communications agencies cite social media as a major cause of communications crises, according to a survey conducted by Dynamic Markets, a research consulting firm. A hundred senior PR professionals took part in the survey early this year which revealed:
- 24% said traditional media had ignited crisis situations
- 34% said bloggers had been to blame
- 24% said crises had started in online social networks
- 8% said discussions in online forums had been the root of crises
Half of all agencies had had client crisis management situations involving social media in the past 12 months. Almost two-thirds of those said social media had exacerbated a problem. Forty-five per cent of respondents felt that social media gave journalists easy access to disgruntled individuals which fuels crisis situations.
Yes, social media may very well fuel PR disasters (as we’ve recently seen with the Greenpeace campaign against Nestle), but as the same time they can be used to diffuse potential crisis situations. A disgruntled customers can be reached by a company just as easily as by a journalist.
To get things right in a crisis situation takes advanced planning and practice. Organisations should assess their crisis readiness and build social media elements into their response plans. Ideally they’ll run simulation exercises to test their response capabilities.
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