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How to “put out” an online crisis and turn it into an opportunity

Published on 08/07/2014

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The word crisis can make any company shiver: from the just-hired trainee to the CEO himself. In fact, it is one of the most written about topics. But in 2014, crisis have ceased to have a classical context. Today, an online crisis is so (so) severe that it can make the reputation of any brand crumble.

Managing an online reputation crisis has to be a fundamental part of the protocol of any business today. Any criticism (product, brand, including personnel) has a much greater visibility than a good word. Hence, any ‘spark’ hidden in our reputation may become a “fire” if not properly managed. This is not reinventing the wheel, but tackling the crisis as any other challenge: analyzing the problem, planning and reacting quickly without rushing into it.

My experience in the “extinction” of this type of crisis states that the next step after locating the focus of a criticism is developping a simple and clear outline closely with the department manager. What should this outline include? All the negative comments, opinions, judgments and statements made through the online channels. We should also write down, together with the official response, all the reviews that we think could come through during the following hours and days. Once this plan of action is agreed upon, all there is left is to be patient and answer each and every one of the comments while trying to make them converge in a single profile or channel without allowing them to be scattared over the network.

Despite devoting many hours before the computer monitoring and answering comments and noting that the crisis is slowly fading, our attention must be constant during the following days. It is necessary to continue to closely monitor the evolution of the online conversation in order to prevent relapse.

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Lastly, we must take into account that a well-handled crisis can be a success for a company. There is no better tune-up than turning a moment of uncertainty into an opportunity to relaunch a brand or product in those very same tough times.

As an example, an interesting article where the author gathers his conclusions after having monitored one of the online crisis in which I worked actively as a ‘firefighter’.

 José Daniel Soto Soto, Account executive. Corporate and Social Network Division

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