Social media and issues management: FireBell

Social media and issues management: FireBell

Over the past 12 months I’ve been working with Weber Shandwick in Australia to develop a rigorous programme around online issues and crisis management. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some very experienced crisis management professionals and to date, we’ve been using the FireBell program to run live simulations for clients and partners alike.

To underline the work, I recently spoke at a digital advertising conference, and here’s a summary I posted shortly after on Weber Shandwick’s blog.

More and more, we’re seeing social media at risk of destroying the reputation of brands and individuals:

And much, much more!

10 need to know questions for online issues and crises

Why community management isn’t for the interns

When the proverbial hits the fan for the first time, we must remember the top three things that can leave the room when we’re forced to make quick decisions: perspective, foresight and writing ability.

It’s not big mystery why. Stress kicks in, awful things are written across your once beautiful Facebook page, and someone has started a Twitter hashtag asking for your head. What’s a community manager to do? What’s the CEO to do?

I’ve never agreed with varying ‘golden rules’ of social media because, time and time again, they are proven a poor course of action.  The biggest lesson we’ve learned in reputation management (online or offline) is that the right counsel is different for each organisation.

This is where digital strategy meets issues and crisis management.  This is why pure digital specialists can fall down without the counsel of some very experienced bods.

But above all else, here are the top 10 questions we are asked in each and every FireBell Social Media Crisis Simulation:

  1. 1.  One negative comment: Will a response just make it worse?
  2. 2.  Wait and see: How long should we wait until this grows from a single post to an issue, to a full-blown crisis?
  3. 3.  Working in silos: Do we need to talk to another department?
  4. 4.  Rumours and questions: If it’s not true, do you need to respond at all? If we don’t know the answer yet, what do we do?
  5. 5.  Anti-brand hashags:  Is this a storm in a tea-cup? Or is the issue wide-spread?
  6. 6.  Anti-brand Facebook pages: Do you engage at all?
  7. 7.  Parody posts: What do you do about people using your promotions against you?
  8. 8.  Internal comms: When should we tell the boss? When should we tell HQ?
  9. 9.  Traditional media: What do we do when a journalist calls about our Facebook page?
  10. 10. Acknowledging the issue: Do we show sympathy? Are we admitting fault?

Overall, we find our simulations bring to life the fact that in today’s world of online reputation management, social media simply isn’t a marketing or PR tool.  It’s a reputation gateway

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll look at some of the potential answers to these questions. But there will only be one constant: there is no golden rule.

FireBell is Weber Shandwick’s interactive community management training tool that allows companies to understand the issues and crisis environment online, develop effective communications and social media plans to prepare for an issue, and train in a live real-time crisis environment through our simulation tool. Contact Jye for details.

Jye Smith is currently the Digital Strategist for Weber Shandwick Australia. Ranked in B&Ts 30 Under 30, he's a regular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator who specialises in digital strategy, social media marketing, and change management.