Content Discovery Smackdown: Hootsuite vs. Buffer vs. KloutContent Marketing Minds: Ingredients of the Tastiest Content [Nutrition Label]From the Corn Field to the Digital Era: Content Marketing Starts with TrustContent Marketing: Is 2014 Really Shaping Up to Be the Year of Video?
Your Customers Aren’t Listening! How to Create Consumer Dialogue that Converts4 Tools for Nonprofit Social Listening and Reputation ManagementThe Promising Role of Social Listening in Treating Health IssuesThe Importance of Social Listening for Brands
- Public Relations
Facebook Testing a Way for Users to Buy Products on the Platform7 Website Tips to Attract More Shoppers to Your PagesHow eCommerce, Augmented and Virtual Reality Will Redefine the Retail ExperienceSearch Query Analysis to Increase eCommerce Website Conversions
- Content Marketing
Technology & Data
Social Startups: Bizible Connects All the Dots from Marketing Contributions to RevenueCreating the Perfect Profile for Your Social Media Marketing EffortUsing GPS and Localization for Social AnalyticsAnalytics and Prospect Intel: Discovering Your Ideal Prospect
- Big Data
- Tech & Innovation
3 Security Risks You’re Taking Every Day While Using Social MediaShould the President Have the Power to "Pull the Plug" on the Internet?How Safe is Your WordPress Website From Hackers and Other Malicious Attacks?
- Software & Tools
- Small Business
- Social Organization
Celebrating the Grand Re-Launch of Social Media Today! SBH Podcast Episode 8Why Should You Care If Your Employees Are Thought Leaders?Beyond Engagement: The Art of Managing Social-Media Risk in Employee Advocacy
Why All-in-One Social Media Management Systems Don't Cut It for Social Customer ServiceWhat You Should Know About Customer, Digital, and Contextual ExperienceSurging into Q3: How to Make It Better Than Q2Is How You Serve Your Customers Costing You Business?
Join us September 15th in Atlanta for The Employee Advocacy Summit and learn how to unleash the power of your employees.
Post your event here and we'll share it with our community. If one of our members is featured, we'll promote as well on their profile.
- Marketplace & Webinars
The SMT Marketplace
Your resource for exclusive content and insights from Social Media Today, and opportunities to reach our community of professionals.
The Social Business Book Club brings you books, discussions, and insights from today's to business thought leaders.
Join interactive talks and and panel discussions with leading thinkers and practitioners on social media and networked business, or browse the catalogue of recorded sessions - all completely free.
Reach Social Media Today's community of marketing and communications professionals in an editor-approved context with a native advertising package.
Social Media Crisis Planning: A Case Study
Posted on February 11th 2013
I landed back in the UK this morning fresh from a two day crisis management workshop with a client in South Africa. The purpose of the workshop was to ensure that they would be ready to protect the business and its reputation in the event of an incident. They recognised that there’s simply no time to develop a crisis communication plan or undertake crisis management training when the incident occurs.
Stepping off the plane I logged on to Twitter only to release an avalanche of tweets about horsemeat in Findus’s beef lasagne. The crisis communication response from Findus indicates that it had under-prepared for such a situation and was therefore poorly placed to preserve its reputation.
What are the tell-tale signs that indicate this and how can other businesses learn from them?
1) Poorly presented information on its website
Findus does have a statement about the situation at the bottom of its homepage and on its contact us page. But it looks as though it has been hastily put there without any thought as to its design or positioning, and it lacks a heading of any kind.
Advice: Consider beforehand how you will use your website to communicate in a crisis and pre-prepare templates to be uploaded in the event of an incident.
2) Inappropriate messages on its website
Findus’s homepage proudly proclaims that it uses “only the best ingredients” and another page exclaims “you can trust us” alongside a picture of a “beef” lasagne. On a normal day, these messages are fine. Today, they look hollow, unprofessional, or even bad taste jokes.
Advice: Review all marketing and promotional activity (including your website) in the light of a crisis and change, cancel or delete anything which is unhelpful to your plight.
3) Inability to communicate with consumers
Findus’s “contact us” page includes a contact form, but unfortunately it is “currently unavailable”. So consumers turn to the telephone helpline, only to receive a recorded message.
Advice: In a crisis, you need to connect directly with your stakeholders and be able to cope with the hundreds or thousands of inquiries which may ensue. Set up channels beforehand which are robust, well-resourced and available for use in the heat of a crisis.
4) Absence from social media
The Findus “contact us” page includes an invitation to “follow us on Twitter”: click on the link and you are taken to @CrispyPancakes1 whose most recent tweet appeared more than two years ago. Many people are tweeting to that address making comments, jokes and asking questions. So far, no one has received a reply. There’s also a link to Facebook, but that does not lead to a Findus page either: some commentators suggest that it has been taken down in light of the crisis. If so, surely that’s the opposite of what they should be doing at a time like this?
Advice: Social media is the melting pot in which crises are brewed. The horsemeat saga is all over Twitter with everyone from government ministers, Chris Evans, comedians and worried consumers all having their say. You must gear up to use social media to communicate latest facts and engage with your stakeholders (don’t forget that journalists are heavy users of Twitter and use the channel to inform many of their articles).
5) Absence of a spokesperson
Driving home this morning I turned on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme to hear that “Findus refused to provide a spokesperson.” As a consequence, an issue which could cause enormous harm to the brand was covered in great detail on an opinion-forming programme without the company having any opportunity to shape that discussion.
Advice: When you are at the heart of a major crisis focused on your business, it almost always makes sense to field a spokesperson: your voice needs to be heard. Invest in crisis media training and ensure that you know who your best spokespeople are and identify at least two deputies in case your first choice is unavailable.
If you manage a food company, one day your products will be contaminated. If you run an airline, one day, one of your planes will crash. If you make cars, one day there will be a safety recall. And all of these situations are recoverable.
But only if you engage in crisis management planning and training beforehand.