Press the panic button: PC CAN Crisis Strategy

Is this a social media crisis? Is someone personally attacking PC CAN? Is there negative press through social media, press or otherwise? Are stakeholders upset about something? If the answer to any of these is YES, then the social media crisis plan should be implemented. At this point, is it important not to blame anyone. All members of PC CAN are accountable and professional in this and all matters.

Communicate with leadership team. Ideally the social media manager would first notice the issue. They should immediately alert communication director, not through an email, but a text or phone call. The communication director reaches out to board of directors, and executive director/president. This does not mean that the manager/director needs to wait to hear back from everyone before responding, but alert the team before putting a message online is important.

Develop a quick and sincere response. If possible, develop this message with one other member of the team to ensure accuracy. The message should include an apology, acknowledgment of crisis and (if possible) includes a video from someone on board of directors. Depending on how complicated the issue is, a “time-buying” measure can include a quick message like: “We are experiencing X issue and will provide an update as soon as more information is available. Please contact our communication director, Kelly Hammond at with questions.”

Update all communities promptly. Put a message on all channels: Facebook, Instagram, website and email through Constant Contact. Ensure that the same message is clear and includes a way for individuals to reach out for more information.

Ask for input. It’s important to provide a way for affected communities to vent or help provide a solution. Put a message on Facebook asking for input and comments. Also share a phone number and email to reach the organization. Respond to each message personally.

Organize all information in one place. Keep track of all correspondences. Screenshot conversations. Keep track of individuals, phone numbers, times and any information that may be relevant to look back on. These should be kept in a Google Drive folder that is visible to the entire team.

Schedule a post-mortem conversation with leadership team. Depending on the level of severity, a separate meeting to go over the event and subsequent response will be necessary. A shorter post-mortem can include a shorter with board of directors to review the issue and take away and learnings from the crisis.

Move on and continue to provide good service and good listening. Once the crisis is over, move on and allow followers to do so as well.

Additional suggestions as they are relevant:

-Engage in listening to comments from followers. If comments become negative or a mistake is realized, begin crisis communication plan.

-Rule of 3: do not respond a third time to a message or complaint online. Take it offline and manage via email or phone to deescalate the issue.

-Continually update the directors, volunteers and partners via email so that they are informed if someone reaches out to them. Provide them with answers, recommended responses and resources. One post will likely not be enough.

-Respond within a few hours to the initial event. Do not wait to hear back from every member of the board of directors.


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