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How to Staff for PR Crises in Social Media

A PR crisis can strike a brand at any time without warning – especially with today’s technology and how easy it is to have incidents recorded (looking at you, United Airlines). Not only are these incidents recorded, but they spread like wildfire throughout social media platforms, inciting public outcry which results in your brand being flooded with @mentions, comments, and Direct Messages. Since you never know when a crisis may strike, it’s good to have a plan ready in advance to ensure you act quickly and appropriately.

Part of a strong crisis plan is ensuring you have the appropriate staff to handle it and they know their responsibilities during the event. Here are some thought-starters to help guide who you should plan to include during a time of crisis and what value their role can provide.

  • Community Managers – The person or people who actively manage your social media channels need to be included in every step of a crisis. In fact, they are probably the people who noticed the crisis in the first place. They can provide community insights, messaging guidance, social listening insights, and physically send responses as needed.
  • PR or Communications Leads – Someone from your brand’s communications team needs to be present to help ensure that any messaging created is on brand and doesn’t set the brand up for further issues. They can also manage the crisis via traditional methods during this time. (e.g. – official statements, interviews, etc.) They should work closely with the Community Manager(s) during the crisis.
  • Brand Managers – Brand Managers can be looped in as needed to provide guidance on products, messaging, and relay information from executives.
  • Analysts/Metrics Leads – Analysts can provide data and insights on the volume of comments, mentions & messages being received so the team can see how big this crisis is and what people are saying. Having a Social Media Management tool available during a crisis time is highly encouraged, as it can provide data and reporting much quicker than having to natively download and parse through information.
  • Legal Advisers – Depending on the nature of the crisis, you may want to have a member of your brand’s legal team available for questions and risk assessment. The messages you put out via social can have legal implications, so it’s important that you don’t further damage your brand during the crisis.

One other important thing to keep in mind when staffing for a PR crisis is to designate one person to be the ultimate approver or decision maker. The last thing you need during a crisis is for 15 people trying to come to an agreement while tensions are high. One person needs to own this role so things can be handled quickly and efficiently. Generally, the PR or Communications Lead would be a good choice for this role.

A crisis in social media is never fun and hopefully you won’t ever have to experience one. However, having a staffing plan created in advance will help mitigate damage to your brand and allow your team to act quickly and cohesively.

Need help creating a crisis plan? Send us an email or tweet!

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