The challenges of this age are as complex as the age itself. Online crisis has become part of what we must live with. Shrewd Community or Public Relations Manager must keep honing their skills to work out things for the organizations or brands they represent.
Let us look at the best ways to address online crisis or any other messy situations which we may confront.
Nail the source, find the motive: You cannot win a war you know nothing about. This is the reason why in military setting, strategy is essential. Strategy rests on better appreciation as well as understanding of all the enemies’ antic, resources etc.
Is the individual or group out to score cheap points? Is there any justifiable reason for this? No reason is too small to overlook. What you may consider insignificant may be very significant to the other party. Wear their shoes if they have a genuine point.
Be professional: When the water is soiled and tempers are charging high, there is always a tendency to throw professionalism out by engaging in unethical means of resolving the issues. No matter the level of provocation, always be professional in the way you handle issues. Many underdogs will want to drag you to their own level by being mischievous so they can tell the world what you are doing wrong. They have a sinister motive which you must not allow them to accomplish through you. In all you do, ask if what you are about to say or publish will enhance your brand’s professionalism.
Use the same channel: The channel used by the complainer should be your organization’s first communication tool. If the issue kicks off offline, start with that platform and incorporate others as a way to gain greater visibility for your argument or defence.
Desist from name calling: There is always a tendency to join the bandwagon by resorting to name calling or engage the use of abusive words. You do not gain friends by being abusive; you only make people laugh and wonder.
Focus on the issue: People who start the war will usually want to distract your focus by throwing up several non relevant issues. Stay on the issue, address the major issues at stake and stop jumping around to issues that are not relevant to the present crisis.
Switch and use offline tools: While the online tools may be good, wise organizations also understand the use of other offline tools that can quickly lower the tension. Always go the extra mile to deal with your clients’ complaints.
Show empathy: Whatever happens, show empathy. Never display any form of arrogance or show off an attitude. Remember 3 billion online users may be monitoring your reactions.
Communicate, communicate communicate: This is not the best time to maintain silence. Communicate the efforts you have taken, that you are taking and the solutions you have provided till the crisis dies down. Never assume people know you are trying. You have got to let everyone know you are doing something, offering help and providing ongoing assistance, and working towards a solution for the party concerned. We may not always get 100% result every time but it is obvious we will always come out better, stronger and we’ll appreciated by all.
The author is a communications specialist, Social Media expert, trainer and speaker.