Author: Sarah Marsden, Social Media Manager at iMiller Public Relations
“There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” P.T. Barnum, the 19th century American showman and businessman, once famously said. Nevertheless, ask the shareholders of BP and Volkswagen, two companies that suffered precipitous falls in their market price as result of worldwide publicizing of their recent difficulties, and they might not agree. For most organizations, especially in the age of social media, if you are the talk of the town, the reasons why do matter. That’s because bad news always has the potential to negatively impact your business standing and brand, particularly if malfeasance, or the perception of it, is involved.
Crisis and reputation management has long been a critical component of maintaining a solid business profile. A company is only as strong as their presence within the market and greater community, and maintaining a strong reputation is a critical element to commercial success and brand longevity. As we venture further into the digital age, the ways in which businesses and consumers communicate are constantly changing and adapting to new technologies and platforms, allowing stakeholders to create ongoing dialogues, and share and receive information faster than ever before.
The emergence and proliferation of social media has influenced the distribution of information at exponential proportions. The capability of a group or individual to share information and opinions to an extensive audience in a matter of milliseconds can be a positive or a negative influence for companies in a state of crisis. Social media can serve as the accelerant or extinguisher to corporate crises, depending how and when and by whom it’s used. Understanding the ways in which social media can assist in the preservation of a positive reputation in times of crisis can make a company better prepared and more resilient within the marketplace.
Many organizations do believe that a major crisis threatening their brand and reputation is an imminent threat, as experts have found that as many as 82% of companies believe they will experience one in the next three-to-four years. Counter-intuitively, however, surveys also show that 60% of companies do not believe they currently have an effective social media plan in place to deal with such a crisis, leaving them exposed and vulnerable.
Social media can serve as an invaluable asset to companies experiencing crisis, acting as a platform from which to offer information to the public and media that can get ahead of the story, mitigate controversy, articulate a point of view, control the discussion, buttress the brand, and maintain or regain trust. Taking preventative measures by establishing a social media strategy ahead of time will allow a company to effectively manage difficult situations by engaging key audiences with authentic dialogue early and often.
In the digital era, when information spreads literally at the speed of light, resilient companies will recognize social media as an indispensable tool for reputation management and crisis preparedness. iMiller Public Relations has a wide social media presence and utilizes social media campaigns and tactics in both good times, and in the face of unforeseen challenges. iMPR has a seasoned and creative social media team in place to reinforce and protect companies’ brand reputation, to take advantage of timely trends and discussions in the media and among consumers of our clients’ products and services, and to act and react as an integrated element of firms’ marketing strategy.