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Issues Management: Using Social Media to Mitigate Potential Crises

By Chris Walker / Aug 13, 2013

CM-blog-image-revB-2013-08-13Social media and public relations professionals across the nation cringed when they saw this pre-scheduled tweet the NRA sent a few hours after the Aurora shooting. Articles and blogs asked: What in the world was the NRA thinking, and could this happen to my organization?

Companies must know what topics are being discussed on social media - especially during high profile crisis. They also need to monitor their own brand mentions for a potential crisis that could arise. Implementing an issues management program through social media can save a lot of headaches and stop issues before they become their own crisis.

Issues management is the proactive process of anticipating, identifying, evaluating and responding to issues that organizations face. Social media – especially Twitter – is often an early warning tool for potential brand issues that could arise.

By following the three steps below, companies can get ahead of potentially harmful public relations nightmares and prevent a crisis:

  1. Monitor for brand mentions. Monitoring for mentions of the company on social media will help you know what is being said about you and your solutions. If an update to a software offering you have doesn’t work, chances are that someone will post about it on Twitter or in a forum or community. Knowing about it early will allow you to prepare to best respond, and get working on solving the issue before it affects a wider amount of people.
  2. Monitor for competitive mentions. Seeing what competitors are doing will give insight into how they position against you. More than once in my career a competitor to one of my clients made a claim that isn’t true. Knowing early allows you to go on the offensive to clear up misperceptions and call them on the carpet for false claims. You’ll also be able to see and learn about their positioning and how they deal with issues they face.
  3. Monitor for industry events, national and global issues. By knowing what is going on in the broader world, you can modify your programs or scheduled activities appropriately. You don’t want to damage your brand by saying something insensitive during a time of broader crisis like the NRA did in the hours after the Newton school shootings.

Having a process in place to address these issues as they arise is crucial to making sure you are able to respond appropriately. By following these steps you can ensure your organization is poised to quickly respond to an escalated social media situation through effective communications and appropriate action.

What do you do to keep an issue from becoming a crisis? Leave a comment below.