Speed of response has always been a critical element of any crisis communications exercise.  Professional communicators are well aware that social media has changed that forever.

US Airways 1549Just read this quote from an article in “The Strategist” (Spring 2009 – subscription required) regarding US Airways Flight 1549 – the one that landed in the Hudson.

“The 60-minute window in which to deliver an initial statement no longer exists.  In the case of Flight 1549, broadcast coverage hit in two minutes, wire coverage in six minutes and online coverage, complete with visuals, in nine minutes.  The US Airways communications team responded in 11 minutes after the incident, which is a clear indication that the airline was behind the curve from the start.”

Despite the near incomprehensibility if someone suggesting that 11 minutes for an initial response was “behind the curve,” it is clear that social media requires that we amp-up all of our planning.

In the July 13, 2009 PR News Tipsheet (subscription required), Scott Allison of Allison & Partners, offers these tips for crisis communications in an online world:

  • Plan ahead – think through scenarios and develop plans accordingly
  • Know what your customers think and use it to your advantage – stay close to your clients in good times and in bad
  • Leverage the power within – engage brand champions in times of crisis, and that doesn’t mean just the C-suite suits
  • Plan for the worst, whatever that might be – advanced planning may give you the breathing room you need to address fast-moving issues
  • Communicate your intentions – be sure the initial focus with the media is on fixing the problem
  • Pick your platform – make sure you are using the right social media platforms for your situation
  • Remember that time is of the essence – ‘nuf said.

Every business needs a crisis communications plan because every business will face some form of unplanned and unexpected disruption that, if not responded to in a timely and appropirate manner, can threaten the trust customers have placed in them and jeopardize the corporations reputation.

Post by Nick Vehr – 7.27.09