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By Judy Luk-Smit May 31, 2018 Reading time: 3 minutes


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A crisis can be one of the most difficult situations in a CEO’s career. Crisis preparedness and internal education can aid you before a crisis hits, and having the right monitoring and measurement tools in place can provide you the insights you need throughout a crisis. For brands, there is a new world of rapid-response, multi-channel engagement during crises that can produce scary challenges: a situation that once may have taken weeks to unfold can now grow into a crisis in a matter of hours. However, with careful planning and structure, you can put together an effective crisis plan that allows you to move quickly and avoid some key pitfalls.

A tale of two CEOs

When news broke that Cambridge Analytica was able to access the personal data of millions of Facebook users, Mark Zuckerberg did not respond for five days. In those five days, the hashtag #DeleteFacebook circulated the Internet and a recent study from Creative Strategies showed that thirty-five percent of Facebook users surveyed said they are using Facebook less than they did before hearing about data privacy concerns. Although Zuckerberg apologized and was transparent and put an action plan in place, some damage was already done in the five days it took to respond.

Taking a different tact in crisis was Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. When there was outrage following the arrests of two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia last month, Starbucks made quick and clear changes. Johnson issued a public apology within 48 hours of the story breaking and requested a face-to-face meeting to discuss a “constructive solution.” In under a week, Starbucks announced it would be closing all of its company-owned restaurants in the U.S. on May 29 to conduct a racial-bias education program. AirPR Software shows that media coverage and Facebook social media activity significantly slowed after Johnson’s apology.

Source: AirPR Software

Source: AirPR Software

In a time of crisis, CEOs need to act decisively and quickly with transparent responses in today’s rapidly moving media landscape. Utilizing data and AI technologies to assess the situation can provide insights into how to respond and allow CEOs to make data-driven decisions.

How data can tell the story

It’s vitally important to have media and social monitoring tools in place with regular alerts so that you know immediately when news hits and a crisis starts to bubble to the surface. In addition to monitoring, however, new technologies like AirPR Software’s Analyst Platform now allow us to aggregate content and identify trends – without reading every article and tweet. Think of your monitoring and measurement tools as your early warning system.

It is tempting to ‘go dark’ while you investigate a crisis, however, those who are listening are checking your site and looking for your response. It’s important to acknowledge the situation and say “We are aware…” even if you don’t have an official response to the situation. Promise that a response is coming.

If necessary, apologize. This is the scary part. Apologizing in a time of crisis can lead to legal concerns. If you are nervous about whether you can actually apologize, at least say “I’m sorry for the emotion.

CEOs and others in the C-Suite should utilize AI-driven tools to identify trends, pick up on crisis before they explode and develop quick, transparent responses.

Want more? Sign up for our webinar How to Protect Your Brand In A PR Crisis on Wednesday, June 20th at 10 am PT.

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