The rise of social media has changed not only the speed of news, but also necessitates a change in PR strategy.
The traditional press release announcing that your company was well-prepared for a disaster and able to minimize its effects might not reach all reporters in a timely manner. First, press releases take time to prepare (hopefully you’ve mocked that up ahead of time as part of your crisis communication planning and just have to fill in the blanks). Second, traditional releases may ignore or undervalue citizen reporters who use social media.
According to the CDC, not engaging with publics on social media can have the same negative effects as not returning a reporter’s call. If your agency isn’t representing itself on social media, chances are high that someone is commenting on your disaster somewhere in cyberspace, and the CDC warns that citizen reporters and possibly even mainstream reporters will seek out content on social media whether or not it is an agency-sanctioned source.
Establish Credibility Before a Crisis. It’s important to establish your agency’s credibility on social media, with official Facebook and Twitter pages that contain your logo and contact information. Your social media credibility should be developed before a crisis if possible, with regular updates to your Facebook and Twitter feeds. This will allow reporters (both citizen and traditional) to gain a sense of what your agency is really about and have a way to contact you with questions.
Listen, Listen, Listen! It’s important to monitor conversations about your brand or agency online. This will allow you to address questions or correct assumptions as they come up.