To the Point: Brand Slammed?
3. Act fast on the site where it started
If you need to respond, do it now, in the venue where the situation started. Slow reactions are bad reactions. Things move at lightning speed on Web 2.0, and you don’t want something to spiral out of control before you get in a response. It’s OK if you don’t have all the answers or every piece of needed information — just be transparent about it. “I’m really concerned with this and am looking into it” is better than radio silence. “I’m concerned our staff said that to you and am finding out what happened so I can give you the response you deserve” is better than nothing. Domino’s was right to respond to the video on YouTube — and to put spokespeople out there wherever it was getting airtime. By responding to a tweet on Twitter, you ensure rapid communication as well as achieve the potential to keep the controversy within the community in question. (Hence achieving a tempest in a twitterpot.)
4. Be honest, transparent, friendly and nondefensive
This is key. If there is misinformation out there, correct it in a helpful, noncombative way. My organization’s own crisis communications plan (hope you have one, too) sets out the following principles if we’ve made a mistake:
- Be sincerely apologetic if we’ve done wrong.
- Take responsibility.
- Err on the side of open, frequent communication.
- Be absolutely honest.
- Ensure what we say is accurate — if we’re not sure, say we’re not sure.
- Do all we can to fix problems and mitigate harm.
- Say what we’re doing to ensure it doesn’t happen again. This one is especially important.
5. Remember, it is a conversation
This isn’t a monologue by the critic or by you. Nor is it a war. It’s a conversation. When you respond, be open to reactions, and answer questions. You can’t post one response and call it a day; you need to keep tabs on the situation and participate in the ongoing conversation. FS