In a crisis, it is crucial that a company's Social Media team is fully integrated into its Crisis Communications organisation. This was the key message delivered by BHK Crisis Communications partner, Barbara Kracht, speaking at the recent Go-Crisis emergency response seminar in Dubai.
"In routine every-day life, the Social Media team is typically a function of the promotions and marketing department. Yet, in a crisis, Social Media, thanks to its speed and reach, has overtaken conventional media as a channel for the rapid and direct communication of information to wide audiences," she explained. "Social Media have become the prime communications tool - both to the conventional media and the public at large".
"This means during a crisis - be it an accident or an mis-handled incident, which nowadays can instantaneously go viral - the Social Media team must instead follow a reporting line to the Crisis Communications organisation. This has to be determined and put in place in peacetime, ie. before any disruptive event occurs, as there is no time to have the debate and figure it out during a crisis," added Kracht.
"A well-prepared company will frequently audit, exercise and update its Crisis Communications plan to ensure it clearly describes and rehearses the organisation, policy and procedures to be taken - including the use of Social Media channels - in a crisis," she recommended.