Two types of plans are essential in preparing for a PR crisis: a crisis management plan and an ongoing communications measurement plan.
“You need to know what’s happening out there, and your dashboard software is the most important piece of any crisis environment,” says Josh Machiz, director of integrated marketing at Nasdaq in its white paper How to Build a World-Class Crisis Communications Playbook. “Certain words, connected to your organization, could spell a crisis.”
A monitoring system can identify media outlets with negative mentions, enable you to respond to unfavorable publicity, and measure your effectiveness in decreasing and countering negative publicity. A good measurement system provides critical data to help you in your decision-making.
PR measurement expert Katie Paine, CEO of Paine Publishing, explains reasons measurement is invaluable for handling PR crises.
- You will know if your brand is being compromised—maybe even before the local media contacts you. A monitoring system that searches both social and traditional media for mentions of your brand will alert you to any unusual mentions.
- You can learn if negative mentions are worrisome. Are several negative tweets a normal blip or a sign of an imminent disaster? A measurement system can compare volumes, reach and sentiment of mentions to provide real insight.
- Long-term measurement can reveal the most effective tactics in the past. Insights from that data can help guide decisions during the heat of the crisis, helping you will remain calm during the crisis and avoid spontaneous, ill-advised decisions based on little or no information.
- You will know how your message is resonating in the media. With an ongoing measurement system in place you can quickly see if your actions are portrayed as you intended in the media and if the resulting coverage reflects the positioning you desire. “With measurement you can be the best-informed person in the room,” Paine says. “You’ll confidently enter the war room, armed with facts and figures about what worked in the past, what is working now, and what should be changed going forward.”
- The organization will be able to maintain its perspective. An analysis can reveal if the tone of media coverage is within normal ranges or compare coverage to industry averages. Perhaps media coverage is not as negative as it seems.
- You’ll know if your strategy is succeeding and if you can relax. Typically, crisis coverage and negative mentions peak on the first day then gradually decrease. If mentions continue to increase after the first day, PR has a problem.
- You’ll be better able to argue for a budget increase. Monitoring and measurement will quantify PR’s impact and costs.
In addition to the decision-makers, effectively responding in a PR crisis requires at least two people: one to monitor the conversation and another to write social media posts that are distillations of the official statement, Machiz says. Do this in coordination with your crisis communications team, he advises. As you feed your team information about the problem from Twitter and other sources, they will draft statements for the Web. On social media, you can either issue multiple tweets or post an abbreviated statement and a link to your website.
Bottom Line: Ongoing media monitoring and measurement provides one of the most important tools for determining how best to respond during a PR crisis. Media monitoring and measurement can help organizations during a crisis in ways executives don’t realize. The most effective media monitoring is an ongoing service that provides a data archive to help guide decision-making during the crisis.
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