Online Crisis Management Tools

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    Know them, use them

    It’s important to remember that your social media accounts are now considered major crisis communications resources, and will be treated as such by the public when trouble comes around. In the midst of a crisis, the last thing you want stakeholders seeking information to see is a Facebook page covered in advertisements for the latest and greatest. While it is possible to handle the transition from typical marketing/communication mode to full on crisis management tool manually, there are several types of programs that can make the switch both faster and easier. This quote, from a PRSA article by Dave Armon, describes a few of the possibilities:

    While I don’t know of a magical solution that lets a company’s entire marketing program instantly switch off, there are powerful tools to prevent gaffes within the most widely used social networks. Among the features that apply to crisis situations:

    * Moderation consoles that capture posts and comments, matching them against “black lists” of words and phrases that an organization may not want on its Facebook wall. These tools also display comments made to pages that are only weeks or months old, eliminating the possibility of disparaging content being buried deep within a fan page. An “escalation” feature allows questions posed by fans to be e-mailed to experts for faster responses.
    * Page management tools to schedule the publication of content in advance. Some crisis scenarios can be anticipated, so approved responses can be loaded into the tool for faster responses. These tools also let administrators suspend campaigns without the intervention of third-party vendors.
    * Self-service application dashboards allow organizations to publish customized content quickly for their Facebook page. Using these tools, a company, agency or nonprofit could quickly move from a sales-oriented page to one that distributes information about an incident or engages fans to support benevolent nonprofits.
    * Many of today’s consumers gather information in real time. This can lead to big rewards for organizations that learn to behave like media companies, attracting an audience and then earning trust by communicating continuously through the good times as well as the bad.

    Tools like these make it possible to keep up the 24/7 crisis management pace that the public demands while still sneaking in the little things like say…food and sleep. There are versions of all of these tools made by various companies and all differ in price and capabilities, so take the time to familiarize yourself with a few and see which works best for your organization. It may seem like extra work now, but it will be much, much more if you end up facing a serious crisis unprepared.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training.]