9 best crisis management tools
69% of businesses have experienced a crisis in the last five years. 29% don’t have a crisis management team. Brands are exposed on social media. They’re vulnerable to consumer attacks. While companies try to prevent a crisis, they should be readying for one to hit. Unprepared, and brand reputation will be damaged. Solution? Crisis management tools and a crisis plan.
Pretend the crisis doesn’t exist, and it might go away.
Good luck with that strategy.
PR crisis management is vital when an issue can no longer be contained. Your brand’s reputation is going to be damaged. With your free copy of this special edition eBook, you’ll learn how to...
Consumers are online 24/7. It's critical that brands have a crisis plan, and the best crisis management tools in place.
Ignoring a looming crisis is not an option. Any negative online conversation must be monitored and dealt with. As quickly as possible.
"You know my interest in Digital PR crisis management by now. I’ve written extensively on it and it’s a chapter in my new book for the public sector, but here is a great guide from Talkwalker."
Joanne Sweeney-Burke @tweetsbyJSB | Digital Training Institute
Table of content
BEFORE THE CRISIS
- Choose your crisis management team
- Who has access to your social media accounts?
- Choosing the best crisis managment tools
- Practice makes perfect
DURING THE CRISIS
- What should you be monitoring?
- Warning signs
- Be transparent, be genuine
- How to identify the type of crisis
- How to escalate and respond to a crisis
AFTER THE CRISIS
Large or small, your business has to have a crisis management plan. A crisis management team. Crisis management tools.
Because, let's be honest, it's not IF it happens, it's WHEN.
It could be a teeny-weeny blip on Facebook that can be resolved with a painless, quick fix. Or, it could be a code red hitting all your social media accounts simultaneously, that needs the full crash team. Both with the potential to damage your brand reputation. Both needing a prepared crisis management.
When you see a potential social media crisis emerging, you have to work through your crisis management checklist. This should include...
- Identifying the type and severity of the crisis
- Electing your crisis management team - including their contact details
- Creating your internal communication plan
- Setting up the approval process for messaging
- Agreeing pre-approved messages - keep automated responses to the minimum - remember you're human
- Defining your social media policy
The definition of crisis management - brand protection, reputation management, risk management - is having prepared scenarios that'll guide an organization tackling a sudden and powerful negative situation.
Yes, an increasing number of brands do appreciate the importance of having a crisis management plan. But, according to a PR crisis survey conducted by PRNEWS and CS&A International, only 62% have one. With doubt as to how regularly they’re updated.
This is not good news, folks.
Regardless of the type of crisis heading towards you, your reaction time has to be fast to minimize potential damage to your brand. Your crisis plan must include more than just a press conference. No way is that going to be enough in the digital world that we now live in.
A thorough crisis plan must include social media, internal communication, supply chains, vendors, and the press. Best practices include...
- Listing the risks you think may threaten your brand or company
- Adopting monitoring systems - such as Talkwalker - to detect and monitor early warning signs of crises
- Setting up and briefing your crisis management team
- Outline of response and resolve tactics
- Establishing levels of responses, depending on the damage-potential of the crisis
An effective response model includes a system for categorizing and prioritizing issues, and details the appropriate response for each type. Here's a sample response model...
- Level one - impact unknown
Watch and monitor with social media listening, to check for developments. Respond to negative comments, and try to move the conversation to DM.
- Level two - important but routine issue
You’ve found negative mentions on your social channels that are gaining traction. If your company messed up or caused the situation - put your hands up immediately, and apologize.
- Level three - code red
Requires an immediate response. The negative impact on your customers and brand is high. Task your crisis team with fixing the issue. Use a social listening tool to track mentions so you can respond with updates.
When you see signs of a major crisis heading your way, it has to be all hands on deck. Your crisis management plan should have a list of team members that you'll need to communicate with before, during, and after the crisis. Include all their contact details: email, phone number, mobile, WhatsApp group - during the working day, and out of hours.
Yep, not all crises happen between 9 and 5.
Depending on the crisis, it's likely that you'll be reaching out to several teams - HR, PR, legal, support, account managers, marketing. Ensure you determine who the decision maker is. This person will be accountable for managing the team, the crisis, and working with the CEO for resolution.
Sharon had a great weekend. She had a few cocktails, went dancing with her besties, and took some selfies. How do I know? She posted her photos on Instagram. Unfortunately, she forgot to switch accounts, and posted from the company one
In 2017, Francoise Nyssen - the French Culture Minister - had her Twitter account hacked by the son of her community manager. The 13-year old tweeted insulting and inappropriate messages that when found, caused many red faces and were swiftly deleted.
Harsh but true, Sharon was fired. Forgetting to switch accounts, meant she’d posted inappropriate content on the company account. Unhappy at losing her job, she let everyone know how she felt about being fired. Again, from the company account.
Intentionally - it happens - or not, we'll never know. The damage was done.
In 2013, entertainment retailer, HMV, laid off 190 members of staff. The company - other things on its mind, presumably - lost control of its Twitter account and during an angry revolt, seven tweets were posted.
Screenshot - no surprise, all the original tweets were deleted.
Limit access to carefully chosen community managers. Ones that who can be trusted to avoid these kind of mistakes.
Yes, having a code red team is crucial. Taking responsibility and being transparent, should be the norm. Apologizing like a human rather than a bot - c'mon, that's obvious.
But... none of this matters if you don't have the best crisis management tools for the job.
A crisis will have several defining characteristics. The crisis will have the potential to go viral and will often outweigh any form of common sense. It's likely to provoke customers, fans, employees, and stakeholders.
When a social media crisis hits, it does far more damage than a bruised brand reputation. It can have devastating, long-term, if not permanent, impact that'll make your teams, customers, and potential customers second-guess your reputation and fiercely question your bottom line,
Which leads us to the big question. How to deal with a crisis?
A comprehensive crisis management plan and the best crisis management tools on the market.
Choose your social media crisis tools wisely, preferably ones that provides the following features - and more - under one roof...
- Real-time alerts - you can set up Talkwalker Alerts, but to avoid major crises you'll need a more robust analytics tool - such as Talkwalker.
- Image recognition - research shows that up to 80% of pictures shared online, don't bother to reference visible brands in the accompanying text. Our image recognition technology identifies these posts so you as a brand can protect your trademark against misuse and abuse.
- Video analytics - by 2021, 80% of all online traffic will consist of video. You ready? Video marketing drives more engagement. Digital marketers say they get 66% more qualified leads per year, while 90% of consumers state that watching a video helps them choose a purchase. Along with our image recogntion, our AI-powered video analytics allows you to find up to 3x the number of brand mentions. Meaning you'll never leave your brand exposed to abuse.
- Sentiment analysis - or opinion mining, reveals what consumers think of your brand, product, or event. This AI tech finds opinions online and scores them positive, negative or neutral. Our sentiment analysis technology captures customer sentiment with 90% accuracy, understanding the meaning of full sentences, and able to accurately determine customer attitudes and contextual reactions in tweets, posts, and articles. It even gets sarcasm and irony. You can also amplify messaging that’s receiving positive engagement, while responding appropriately to negative comments.
- Support for multiple languages - the buzz around your brand is global. Talkwalker’s social listening platform supports 187 languages, so it can identify where your customers are, how they’re communicating, and what they’re saying.
- Business impact metrics - track and assess the impact to your business during/following crises. Use automated reporting to collect insights and share with all team members.
Reuters published an article covering Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes. Talkwalker was referenced as tracking the social media mentions surrounding her speech. Our virality map monitored the journey of the story - in this instance, positive.
If you can find a crisis management tool that has monitoring, listening, and analyzing all in one place, your response time will be accelerated. Detecting and managing crises will be painless.
Take a look at the following crisis management tools. See what you think...
Talkwalker | Crisis management tools
Your reputation is your most valuable asset. You have to protect it. No one else will. Conversations online have the potential to damage your brand reputation, irreparable. But, monitoring online conversations manually is difficult, inefficient, and inaccurate.
Our platform gives you a comprehensive brand protection and reputation framework so you never miss a mention - across social, online and print media, TV and radio. Mitigate reputational risk through an early warning system and predictive alerts. Talkwalker's social listening platform will help you to monitor potential issues with instant and predictive alerting, unique AI-powered sentiment analysis, image and video analytics.
Talkwalker Analytics monitors social media, forums, blogs, newspapers, TV, radio, and more.
Ever tried to stop a crisis from spreading? Two words... herding kittens.
Taco Bell underestimated how powerful social media is when they fell foul to a foul-mouthed employee. The shocking video of the employee calling the police when a deaf man tried to order food, was quickly shared online. At the time of publication, the video had over 1.7M views. Needless to say, there weas a deluge of negative comments.
The video was posted by the mother of the victim.
The employee was fired and the remaining team has been retrained.
The video was posted in January, and I used Quick Search to check out the sentiment for the first ten days...
Quick Search - crisis management tool - sentiment analysis.
In an age where we're online 24/7, brands have to contend with fake news, cyberattacks, defamatory rumors, hackers, the potential for a crisis to strike, has increased. How can you predict and control a crisis situation? My two crisis management templates will help you control a crisis and diminish its power.
"Quick Search provides such an easy and user-friendly opportunity to deep dive into your competitors' social sphere; letting you harness their strengths and weaknesses to improve and cultivate a winning marketing strategy. For a specific breakdown of the importance of this, you should definitely check out Talkwalker's latest article on the necessity and implications of competitor analysis for your business and brand."
Christina Garnett @RoanokeMaven | Marketing Media Maven
Our AI-powered video analytics lets you capture your brand in action. you'll find up to 3x the number of brand mentions.
No lie. 3 TIMES!
Partnering our image recognition technology, it has access to our 30,000+ database of logos, objects, and scenes. Why have I included it in my list of the best crisis management tools? Trademark infringement. Counterfeit goods.
Use video analytics to find all the videos that contain your logo, even when there's not mention in the content. When I say 'your logo', what I means is a representation of your logo.
It's cute. But it's still trademark infringement.
With video recognition, you'll find all the videos that include your logo, even the fake ones.
Avoid a brand crisis with Talkwalker's visual listening tool.
Google Alerts | Content change detection
There are no holidays when it comes to preventing crises. To monitor effectively, Google Alerts ensures that you’re monitoring your brand online, without actually having to physically monitor your brand’s reputation 24/7.
Consumers are discussing your brand, whether you're listening or not.
As we’ve noted before, people are talking about you and your brand whether you’re listening or not. With Google Alerts, you'll be listening constantly. It's easy to set up and it's free. Use Google Alerts to schedule several different keyword searches for it to monitor. You can also set it up to send you notifications for mentions, scheduled as you choose.
I'd recommend you click the “as it happens” button to ensure that you’re getting notifications in real time, and catch any potential crisis situation before it blows up.
Google Analytics - catch a potential crisis situation before it blows up.
TweetDeck | Twitter management dashboard
TweetDeck is a great crisis management tool for monitoring your brand and potential social media crises. It's simple. It's effective. You're not going to get bogged down with analytical or complicated proceses that would distract you from your main goal - social mendia management and social media monitoring.
With TweetDeck, set up a dedicated column to track your brand mentions. You can also create a search term specifically for keywords about your brand that would display all your replies and tweets. This is awesome for seeing who you’ve responded to and how quickly you were able to respond to a social media crisis.
Monitor interactons, which show you when someone tweets, retweets, or favorites something you’ve done on your account. As well as when someone follows you or adds you to one of their lists.
TweetDeck - monitor your Twitter accounts, your competitors', your influencers', all on one dashboard.
SumAll | Track business & social metrics
Unfortunately, this tool doesn't exist anymore. When I find a suitable alternative, I'll update.
SumAll is dedicated to helping your social media accounts grow without a ton of effort on your part. The platform helps to grow your business, save your money, and find you a larger, applicable audience for your social media channels.
A free program - not many of them left - SumAll helps you to engage your customers 24/7, without you having to physically engage. Automatically share your content to your social media networks. No hassle. Also, get the lowdown on your data. That means you’re able to track your social media performance, your ads, and your sales data with ease.
Connect all of your social media platforms in one place, making social media listening and analysis a cinch. You’ll be able to monitor what people are saying about you, how often people are talking about you, that state of your brand reputation, and more.
You won’t need to log into multiple platforms to post or monitor, instead, you can sign into one dashboard and get all the information you need, making it a breeze to monitor and respond to multiple platforms at once.
SumAll - automatically share content to your social media accounts.
Buffer | Schedule posts & track performance
Buffer is a crisis management tool that allows you to track any negative feedback about your brand, so you can immediately jump in and deal with a potential crisis situation. Buffer allows you to fully manage all of your social media accounts on a single dashboard. You can...
- Schedule posts
- Create social media calendars
- Find the social analytics that matter
- you need, and most importantly
- Monitor online conversations about your brand
Buffer - manage all your social media accoutns from a single dashboard.
Hootsuite | Social management platform
Hootsuite is one of the most comprehensive and reliable free tools out there for brands looking to develop a social media crisis management plan. Not only is it exceptional when it comes to monitoring bare bones social media chatter, it also has well-designed applications for tablets, phones, and desktops. Making it versatile and useful no matter what platform you’ve been using to manage your crisis plans.
The platform offers various plans that allow you to keep track of basic analytics to more advanced. However, the free version is enough for a simple crisis management plan. You'll have the ability to monitor your accounts from LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Because it’s an in-cloud service, you’re able to log-in from anywhere and from whatever device you choose.
Hootsuite - monitor the online chatter surrounding your brand.
Slack | Team collaboration
The tools I've already covered are great for social listening, and to enable a fast response social media issues. But, you’ll need more than just monitoring tools to address issues. You’ll also need a quick, convenient, and reliable way to alert your social media and marketing teams of any issues that may occur.
Slack to the rescue!
Slack is a cloud-based set of tools for team collaboration that keep your team in touch at all times. It's a quick, convenient way to privately chat with your entire team, specific members, or certain groups dedicated to specific projects.
Slack is a tool that companies use to encourage collaboration and workflow, and it allows you to share the information you need, as well as get in touch with the right people as quickly as possible. The best part? Slack is a free tool that anyone can download and use.
Slack - keep your team in the loop at all times.
MailChimp | Email marketing platform
You’ll need direct contact with your staff, which you do with Slack. You must also maintain open lines of communication with your existing customers. MailChimp is the answer.
MailChimp is an awesome email marketing platform that allows you to design and target professional-looking email marketing campaigns. It’s available in both free and paid options, and can do wonders for your social media crisis management.
For example, if your brand is embroiled in a negative social media issue, you can reduce potential damage with an email marketing campaign that will allay your customers' fears.
With MailChimp, you’ll be able to design your own templates, copy-cat off pre-designed templates, and build an email marketing campaign that works best for you.
MailChimp - design and target professional-looking email.
Mailjet | Monitor transactional email
Another great alternative for email needs is Mailjet. It's an email solution for fast-moving companies looking to stay in contact with their customers on a regular basis. It offers you tons of beautifully-designed, custom templates for your campaigns and provides a heap of tools for analyzing and segmenting the correct information to the correct customers.
Mailjet allows you the freedom to customize your templates, as well as monitor your transactional email in real time, highlighting what’s important.
Compare your campaigns, and design specific campaigns for specific customers. It’s an all-in-one email marketing campaign service that will keep you and your customers in touch simply and efficiently.
Mailjet - analyze and segment your email marketing campaigns.
You’re in a code red crisis situation!!! Good time to test the validity of your crisis plan?
Seriously, put it to the test before it’s needed.
- Identify gaps in your process and confirm or modify roles and responsibilities.
- Test under normal and unusual circumstances - during working hours, out of hours, and another when a key player in your crisis team is out of office.
It's a rare occasion when a crisis arises when you’re sat in front of Twitter with your support team leader sat beside you.
Social media is your life, your job.
Constantly watching, it's probably you that sees the early warning signs of an impending crisis. A social listening tool is your best friend - the eyes in the back of your head, your second set of ears.
It can monitor specific keywords, mentions, hashtags, trending topics, sentiment, and your competitors.
To protect your brand, create queries to monitor your company, brand, products, competitors, etc. Ensure you include common variations, spelling errors, slang. Take a look at the queries that Coca-Cola could include...
- Company name
The Coca-Cola Company OR Coca-Cola Company OR Coca-Cola Co. OR The Coke Company
- Products and/or brands
Coca-Cola OR Cola OR Coke OR coca cola OR Diet Coke OR Coke Light Or Coca Lite
Pepsi OR PepsiCo OR Dr Pepper OR drpepper
#shareacoke OR #cokestyle
- Key players - CEO, CMO, etc.
Jane Smith OR J Smith OR JPSmith
- Industry keywords
beverage industry OR soft drinks industry OR soda industry OR sugary drink OR fizzy drink
- Crisis buzz words
obesity OR sugar OR tooth decay
- Support inquiries
- PR representatives
There are always telltale signs when a crisis is heading your way, and in our always on world, social media is where they tend to strike first. As a human, you’ll recognize many of the signs. But, you won’t see them all.
Setting up smart alerts in your social listening tool, will identify the warning signs that you'd otherwise miss. Going beyond the limitations of human ears and eyes, you'll be ablt to find...
- An increase in mentions
- Negative comments outweighing positive
- Complaints about competitors
- Negative industry rumblings
- Sudden spikes or drops in activity around your brand
- Dodgy use of your logo with image recognition
- A peak in negativity with sentiment analysis
- Influencer mentions in news streams, blogs, forums, social media
January 3, 2018 - Tesla received the usual amount of negativity, nothing to worry about.
Relax, snooze time. WTF! A spike in negative sentiment.
Drilling down, the source of negativity becomes clear. It sprung from an article in Reuters, highlighting a delayed production target - the second delay - of the new Model 3 sedan.
With Tesla falling short of Wall Street expectations and letting down its investors, finding and addressing this negative mention, meant that Tesla dodged a larger crisis.
- Set the right expectations
Not all companies are able to offer real-time support 24/7. That’s fine, but be honest about it. If consumers know you’re tucked up in bed, they’ll be more inclined to wait and less likely to post a negative comment. Imply that you’re always online, and they'll be all over you like a rash.
- Create moderation guidelines
You’ve got T&Cs on your website. Do you have moderation guidelines on your social media accounts? Tell users what you will and won’t tolerate. If you’re clear about your house rules, they won’t be too surprised when you delete offensive posts.
Example - “We ask that when contributing your views to our social media pages, you ensure that they do not abuse, threaten, discriminate, or offend others. Otherwise they will be deleted. Please protect your personal privacy and that of others by not publicly posting personal information.”
- Accept responsibility
Don’t be one of those companies that deletes or ignores posts that you don’t like or agree with. And never, ever, ever pretend that your account has been hacked, rather than putting your hands up and accepting responsibility. We’re gonna think you're lazy and don’t care.
- Respond thoughtfully
Be honest, Be genuine. Be sorry. Resolve issues quickly. Hey, we’re human, we mess up. Customers just want to be treated with respect. Don’t just bang out a response without thinking. Filled with mistakes and obvious lies. Talk to the customer one to one. Be polite. Win them round.
69% of customers check reviews before contacting a business, with 72% trusting those reviews. Keep this in mind, when you consider ignoring or hiding bad reviews. You'll be missing out on an easy way to engage with your audience.
- Remember, it’s not personal, it’s business
Customers can be wrong. Customers can say and do stupid things. But, they pay the bills. Never be rude or attacking when you’re engaging with them - be Captain Cooltastic.
Identifying what kind of crisis you're dealing with early on, will play heavily on the final outcome and your ability to solve it successfully.
- Level one - self-inflicted
This is all down to the company - bad practice, carelessness, hiring the wrong people, angry ex employee, or a bad customer experience. Usually kicked off with a leak of information or a public attack.
- Level two - unanticipated data error
This could be financial or a technical data error. An unintentional error that can quickly go viral online, with potentially damaging consequences. In 2010, Google accidentally gathered extracts of personal Web activity from domestic WiFi networks through its Street View cars. A public apology and explanation was posted on Google’s blog.
- Level three - public misinformation
I guess, this could also now be called #FakeNews. It’s inaccurate information coming from external sources. A misguided politician, for instance.
Just out according to @CNN: "Utah officials report voting machine problems across entire country"— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2016
A little known Republican nominee tweeted that Utah officials had reported problems with voting machines across the country. CNN later corrected this misinformation - the problem was across the county NOT country - (facepalm).
Level four - outside force
Some problems come from outside the company. For instance, when third parties hacked into Equifax portals - a consumer credit reporting agency that collects data from 800M+ consumers and 88M businesses worldwide. Blamed on a failure to patch a software vulnerability, the data of over 145 million consumers was compromised. Data that included social security numbers, birth dates, and driver’s license numbers.
It’s all about how fast you respond with a clear, honest, transparent answer. And, the solution. Do this well and you can turn online complaints into a reputation boost, with positive publicity.
- Choose the most appropriate channels on which to communicate with your audience
- React superfast - research demonstrates that the success of customer service is often determined by reaction, more than anything else
- Evaluate the gravity of the issue and respond directly to those affected by the crisis first
- Give constructive responses to questions, requests, or complaints - prove you care
- Be genuine. Be human - show your commitment to solving your customers’ problems
Listen. Identify. Review. Respond.
Greggs, a UK bakery chain, suffered as a result of an online prank. When searching for Greggs, the Google results page displayed a fake logo with an offensive slogan - “providing s*** to scum for over 70 years.” Gregg’s social media team was flooded with comments. Naturally, the team alerted Google to the issue.
Gregg’s social media team’s response demonstrated sheer brilliance.
With Google playing along.
In November 2017, team collaboration tool Slack, went down. Not a crisis caused by the social media team, but they were responsible for dealing with the fall-out. They kept it light, playful, and updated constantly.
We're sincerely sorry for the service disruption you're seeing at the moment. We're working on it with top priority: https://t.co/hlhV4ZiG7E— Slack (@SlackHQ) October 31, 2017
In 2013, Lululemon Athletica - sports attire brand - suffered Pants-Gate. Black yoga pants had to be recalled because they were - unintentionally and unexpectedly - transparent.
The brand, while suffering a drop in stock prices, demonstrated a strong crisis management plan. The brand:
- Admitted its mistake and offered refunds or exchanges
- Responded with humility and openly laughed at itself - we want to be transparent with you
- Issued press releases stating the facts
- Posted FAQs on its website
- The CEO communicated with the press directly
- Worked with their brand ambassadors to keep them happy
Lululemon's see-through pants problem causes stock to drop, also severe disappointment in guys who always take back row in yoga class.— Lauren Goode (@LaurenGoode) March 19, 2013
Even the negative comments, saw the funny (back)side.
BEFORE THE CRISIS
- Build a crisis team
- Define a crisis
- Establish your key message
- Define communication guidelines
- Monitor for mentions
DURING THE CRISIS
- Regain control
- Stop scheduled posts - “Our product’s great.” Oops, it broke
- You can’t hide, so put your hands up and publicly acknowledge
- Get your crisis team on the case
- Post an official response on your company website - depending on the level of the crisis
AFTER THE CRISIS
- Assess impact on your brand - lost followers, negative sentiment, etc
- Talk through your response and plan - did it work? Could it be improved? Update plan
- It doesn’t stop when the crisis ends. Continue to be proactive and post updates
We all make mistakes.
If you have a well-planned crisis plan and crisis managemnt tools, you’ll be ready to tackle reputational risks to your brand. Quickly, honestly, and effectively. You’ll retain trust in your brand and prove that you care about your customers. Play it right, and you’ll turn that frown upside down :)
To help you, I've created a special edition PR Crisis Management eBook. It's packed with expert advice, tools, and templates. Download it now!