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New field in SocialPR: Social Media Crisis Communications

I have been busy with family for the Lunar New Year week but it seem the Singapore blog-o-sphere was active, and is still is, about recently formed Association of Bloggers (Singapore), ABS for short.

To cut a long story short, the announcement of ABS via mainstream media didn’t go down well with Singapore bloggers and in the end resulted in some speculation to why ABS was set-up in the first place. A post by the ABS president defending herself against a harsh criticism from a blogger added to the bad start and created even more speculation that ABS was set-up with an ulterior motive.

A week later, some founding members of the pro-team started posting up notice of resignation on their blogs and this just added fuel to fire. Again, a story of ABS appeared in mainstream media and this lead to even more disgruntled bloggers asking why the president isn’t responding via her blog or the association’s blog.

I also responded to a post about the ABS incident.

You can catch a summary of links and posts at http://tomorrow.sg/archives/2009/01/29/the_dis-association_of_bloggers__1.html

It seems such cases of crisis communication evolving around social media isn’t remote to Singapore.

Two weeks ago, David Henderson wrote of a Ketchum account executive who tweeted negatively about the city he was in for a business meeting with client FedEx. Unfortunately, somebody from FedEx corporate communications took offence to the statement because the city was where FedEx global HQ was positioned.

David has been trying to get Ketchum to comment, as a blogger, but so far they have remained silent. FedEx did reply, but it was in the initial phase and that was it.

To get the latest on David’s post on the issue, please visit http://www.davidhenderson.com/2009/01/28/social-media-crisis-continues-unabated/

I, too, had a brush with social media crisis communication last year.

It was the firs time that the agency had suggested inviting bloggers for a client’s event.

My first advise to the account manager then was that you need to personalised the email invitation as opposed to sending out a mass email like what has be the status quo in dealing with traditional medial.

The personalised email should start of with a simple introduction and followed-up by the details of the event.

The account manager, however, choose to send a mass email and one of the bloggers felt irritated by it and posted her 160 characters thoughts in Twitter on getting the mass invite.

 

When I found out of this Twit and send it the account manager, her immediate response was to call the blogger and apologise.

I said “no” that’s not the way to deal with such crisis communication in the social media space.

I felt calling her would have made the matter worst as the blogger would then start wondering how we got her mobile number.

Going with my belief that web2.0 users like to be engaged and communicated via the same medium, I send this blogger a direct message via my Twitter account and explained to her openly and candidly about what happened and was able to diffused the situation, in 160 characters no less.

There are many books about how communications can handle a crisis but what happens when it occurs on the social media PR space?

Ms. Cashman wrote at David Henderson post of the Fedex incident wrote, “If I learned anything from leaders including Frank Mankiewicz, Tom Hoog, Jackson Bain and many others in the crisis communications field, David, it is that we all have responsibility for our actions.

“Four key principles to good crisis communications: Admit, Acknowledge, Apologize and Act.”

However I have to add that if the crisis occurs via a blog, execute the 4As via the company’s blog and leave a trackback to the original post, or in the post’s comment field.

The key to social media crisis communication is to respond via the same medium which started off the crisis.

Comments

Rachel Chung said…
This is one of the very very few excellent posts with unbiased and constructive criticism :)

Great point about responding via the same medium which started off the crisis.

I had already stepped down at the time I posted this post:
http://www.xtralicious.com/2009/01/24/association-of-bloggers-clearing-up-the-doubts/ though I did not make the announcement at that time. Was still helping where I can.

It would have been inappropriate for me to post in the official site

I am not sure if it would be appropriate now if someone official posts it up at the official site.

What is your take on this?
Princessa said…
Everytime I read your blog I feel like I'm starting to know you all over again - which is WEIRD! Seriously.

But yeah, it's an excellent, constructive entry. Hurhur.
Aaron Koh said…
@Racheal Since you already left the association when you made the post, the clarification on your personal blog will be seen as your own clarification.

The posts from other bloggers seems to show that they expect an reply on the ABS' blog. But they are getting the answers from the mainstream media which again seems puzzling for these bloggers.

@Sabrina Its all about reinventing yourself to meet the everchanging world we live in.
Rachel Chung said…
It's Rachel not Racheal :)
Anonymous said…
I am two minded abt whether it is just a failure to keep to the pr thingy. A friend of mine send me this. I think it balances you missing half of your excellent write up.

http://dotseng.wordpress.com/2009/02/02/does-aunty-ecl-blend-the-day-we-became-animals-and-ate-our-own/

On a personal note. I dont think medium is that important.

Mira

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