Dealing with crisis and issues in the digital age
Earlier this month, VMA Group hosted a digital networking event for senior comms professionals from both private and public sectors, in-house and agency side, and covering a broad range of sectors including Energy, Financial and Transport.
The key topics of discussion were around the best use of digital and social media in the event of crisis and issues; how to effectively manage reputation via these channels and best practice and potential pitfalls.
Here are some of the key findings:
- Digital and social media is well and truly experiencing its day in the sun and as an ever evolving communications channel, teams are having to adapt and respond in record time in order to keep up. However, in many businesses there are still multiple obstacles to overcome, whether it’s push back from the top or lack of knowledge in the team. Businesses must learn to allow comms teams to be agile and responsive.
- Digital and social media must be integrated into the communications mix, it should no longer be in a silo and left to specialists.
- For many, it is still not a seamless process, as buy-in from senior stakeholders is limited and there is a lot of caution around social media. This is not something that is likely to change in a hurry but until then it is crucial to establish what success looks like and ensure that clear measurement tools are in place.
- Our attendees discussed the ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to a crisis or issue and how integral it is to take a step back, look at the genuine effect as well as the expected consumer interaction level before responding. Remember, you may not need to do anything!
- Digital and social media may be faster than other communications tool but it needs to work on the same basis; establish a tone of voice; identify your audience and take the time to understand them. Regular yet engaging and relevant interaction is the key to success.
- It is impossible to develop one digital strategy for a business, it is multi-layered and each element must be focussed specifically on the stakeholders it is addressing.
- Brands and businesses are no longer broadcasting; social media has brought about two-way conversations.
- Sometimes it is necessary to take a calculated risk to establish certain barriers in order to learn how to contain and respond to issues.
- Whilst negative issues will always be around, it is also a channel for consumer advocacy and positivity (when done in the right way!).
- Social media allows consumers an insight into a brand that they’ve never had before, it offers greater transparency and a high level of access.
The positive impact that digital and social media can have on a brand or business is no longer in dispute, but the overriding feeling from the market is that there are still many lessons to be learnt. Despite this, there is a lot of positivity and we look forward to following the trends for 2014.
Check the VMA Group website for details on the next Digital Networking Breakfast due to be held in June (date TBC).
By Natalie Charlesworth
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