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Social media gets blame for PR disasters

4 April 2010 16 Comments
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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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16 Comments »

  • Jeff said:

    PR “disaster” == marketing rep from company who could have handled the situation better.

    Really this is just someone FAILING at their job trying to pass the buck. Every CS problem is truly an opportunity to help someone, increase brand awareness and loyalty.

    so… PR “disaster” == consumer victory really.

  • Craig McGill said:

    It’s easy for social media to get the blame but what the managers have to remember is that social media didn’t invent the disgruntled customer, it’s just that previously they moaned to friends in pubs, workmates and so on. Now they can also go online.

    Secondly, it’s quite easy to diffuse a row online as long as you are prepared to listen and help address what the complaint is.

    Thirdly, I wonder how liberal in the use of the term ‘disaster’ the people asked are being so that they sound a bit more grander than they were. A blogger moaning is not a disaster. (From the PR POV it should be an opportunity).

  • Social Media causes disasters? Only if you have a bad mindset and worse crisis comms plan. | Contently Managed - Digital PR, Social Media, Traditional PR Solutions and Strategy said:

    […] Great little post by Sherrilynne Starkie about social media getting the blame for PR disasters. An interesting and quick read and it shows that some PR types are a) drama queens and b) not grasping the full possibilities of social media… […]

  • sherrilynne (author) said:

    Good points above. I totally agree the word ‘disaster’ is over-used. I’d love to hear if sales of KitKats took a dive after Greenpeace went after Nestle.

  • Social media gets blame for PR disasters | Business Computing World said:

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  • Twitted by EricBuchegger said:

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  • Twitternytta 4:2010 | The Brand-Man said:

    […] Från @DoktorSpinn Smurftips: Social media gets blame for PR disasters http://bit.ly/cTg1GI […]

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  • Paul said:

    Good points above. I totally agree the word ‘disaster’ is over-used. I’d love to hear if sales of KitKats took a dive after Greenpeace went after Nestle.

  • Dave said:

    It’s easy for social media to get the blame but what the managers have to remember is that social media didn’t invent the disgruntled customer, it’s just that previously they moaned to friends in pubs, workmates and so on. Now they can also go online.

    Secondly, it’s quite easy to diffuse a row online as long as you are prepared to listen and help address what the complaint is.

    Thirdly, I wonder how liberal in the use of the term ‘disaster’ the people asked are being so that they sound a bit more grander than they were. A blogger moaning is not a disaster. (From the PR POV it should be an opportunity).

  • Spinns Smurftips #PRofSweden — Doktor Spinn said:

    […] Social media gets blame for PR disasters “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.” […]

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  • Robert Bacal said:

    As with most survey data reports, this doesn’t sound quite right, at least on the surface. One huge problem is that without knowing the exact questions and context of the survey items, we can’t make any sense of it at all. This is a problem with the companies doing the surveys, who, by and large, don’t appear to be very competent in the psychological aspects of survey design and reporting.

    The words are strange, too. Blame? Crisis? How are the respondents defining these?

  • SL’s top posts 2010 | Sherrilynne Starkie said:

    […] Social media gets the blame for PR disasters This post summarizes some research which showed that PR professionals think social media causes a […]

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