In the 24-hour, constant-on world that we live in, news travels at the speed of a click and social media can amplify – especially when it’s bad news. In these instances, digital PR is crucial to navigate a crisis.
Businesses can easily face a crisis without any warning which can have long-term impacts for the brand.
Whether it’s a product recall, a PR disaster, or a social media backlash, businesses and brands will encounter a crisis that requires a strategic and quick response.
This is where digital PR is a crucial lifeline, as it gives businesses a platform and a solution to manage, mitigate, and even turn around challenging situations.
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Understanding Digital PR
Digital PR involves leveraging online channels such as social media, news websites, blogs, and influencer networks to manage a brand’s reputation and communicate its message effectively.
Unlike traditional PR, which primarily focuses on mainstream media, digital PR encompasses a broader range of platforms, allowing brands to engage directly with their audience and stakeholders.
Why Digital PR Matters in a Crisis
There are several reasons why Digital PR is important in a crisis:
In a crisis, every minute counts. Digital PR enables businesses to respond swiftly and directly to any issues. It can allow a brand to provide real-time updates and information to stakeholders. Whether addressing customer concerns on social media or issuing a press release through online news portals, it ensures that brands can communicate effectively during a crisis. A great example of how a brand managed a crisis via social media is when Aldi clashed with M&S over a copyright issue regarding ‘Colin the Caterpillar’. Marks and Spencer filed a legal challenge against Aldi to force the supermarket to take its version of the beloved cake ‘Cuthbert the Caterpillar’ off the shelves. Aldi’s crisis management team responded by posting a series of creative and hilarious social media posts – which captured people’s attention and won them fans. Despite the legal issue, they were able to win in the court of public opinion.
Transparency and Authenticity
With brands and businesses open to so much social media scrutiny, authenticity is key. Digital PR allows brands to maintain transparency and authenticity in their communication. It builds trust with its audience even amid a crisis. By being open and honest about the situation and sharing regular updates, brands can demonstrate their commitment to addressing the issue responsibly.
A crisis can significantly impact a brand’s reputation, but effective digital PR can help mitigate the damage. By proactively addressing negative publicity, engaging with stakeholders, and showcasing efforts to resolve the issue, brands can safeguard their reputation and minimise any long-term consequences. In 2018, in the UK, KFC faced a reputational disaster when hundreds of their restaurants ran out of chicken. However, by being open and honest in their approach to crisis PR, they were able to take ownership of the issue, apologising and quickly addressing any questions and concerns customers might have. The company’s response turned a negative story into positive PR, which helped preserve the brand’s reputation.
Digital PR provides a platform for brands to engage directly with their stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and the media. By actively listening to feedback, addressing concerns, and soliciting input, brands can demonstrate their commitment to stakeholder satisfaction and foster stronger relationships even during challenging times.
Turning Crisis into Opportunity
While crises are inherently challenging, they also present chances for brands to showcase their resilience and commitment to their values.
Through effective digital PR, brands can not only manage the immediate fallout of a crisis but also turn it into an opportunity to reinforce their brand narrative, demonstrate their values, and emerge stronger in the eyes of their audience – another way that KFC handled the chicken shortage so well. One of the main reasons they had supply issues was because they didn’t want to deliver chicken that wasn’t up to their high standards. By conveying their standards, they prioritised their customers and reputation and turned a negative into a way to promote their brand messages around food standards and quality.
How to Navigate a Crisis with Digital PR
Establish a Crisis Communication Plan
Fail to prepare. Prepare to Fail. All businesses must develop a comprehensive crisis communication plan that outlines roles, responsibilities, and protocols for managing any crises. Identify key spokespersons, establish communication channels, and draft template messages for different scenarios to ensure a swift and coordinated response.
Monitor and Listen
Know what is being said about you online. Monitor online conversations, news coverage, and social media mentions to identify potential issues before they escalate. Listen to feedback from stakeholders and respond to any concerns.
Be Transparent and Authentic
Honesty is the best policy. Be transparent about the situation, acknowledge any mistakes or shortcomings, and communicate openly with stakeholders. Authenticity builds trust and credibility, even in the face of a crisis.
Don’t wait for the crisis to unfold. Engage proactively with stakeholders, including customers, employees, and the media, to provide updates and address concerns. Keep them informed throughout the crisis and demonstrate your commitment to resolving the issue.
Learn and Improve
Every crisis is an opportunity to learn and improve. Conduct a thorough post-crisis analysis to evaluate your response, identify areas for improvement, and incorporate lessons learned into your crisis communication plan for anything in the future. Every day is a school day.
Digital PR is an indispensable tool for any business when navigating crises in the digital age.
By embracing transparency, authenticity, and proactive engagement, brands can effectively manage crises, protect their reputation, and emerge stronger from challenging situations.
In today’s fast-paced and hyper-connected world, Digital PR is not just a lifeline for brands—it’s a strategic must for success.
For more information on how you can ensure that your brand is prepared to handle any public crisis, contact the team at Modo25 via email at email@example.com and we’ll get back in touch with you.