Obviously it is important to be cautious of what professionals post on the Internet, right? This should be common sense. But for some surprising reason not everyone has gotten the memo. Sometimes there are traditional crises, and then there are social media crises.
This week we’ve been studying the importance of crisis communication and PR. What is crisis comm. exactly? Business Dictionary defines it as “The effort taken by a company to communicate with the public and stockholders when an unexpected event occurs that could have a negative impact on the company’s reputation.” In other words, it’s an organization’s attempt to maintain excellent public relations in the midst of a PR mishap.
Crisis communication is something every brand should be skilled in, but hopes will never have to use. Unfortunately things happen, and when they do, it’s important to know how to deal with the issue and restore the damage. Luckily my class will get further insight on this issue from expert Melissa Agnes (@Melissa_Agnes) this Friday! Agnes is the founder of Agnes+Day Crisis Intelligence Firm, an internationally established organization which provides services to mid/large sized companies in the public relations field.
We discussed a few examples of social media crises today in class. Some were more severe than others, but the most outrageous had to be the inappropriate tweet by Justine Sacco. Sacco is now a former PR executive for the international media company IAC. On December 20, 2013 just before catching a plane to Cape Town, Africa Sacco sent out a tweet stating, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m White!” Needless to say this immediately caused a social media uproar. To make matters worse, Sacco had no Internet connection on her 11 hour flight to respond to the mess she was creating. All this coming from a “PR Professional?” How ironic.
According to an article by CNN, the IAC released a statement in attempts to restore Sacco’s damage saying, “The offensive comment does not reflect the views and values of IAC. We take this issue very seriously, and we have parted ways with the employee in question.” By the time Sacco landed in South Africa, she had been terminated from the company.
As IAC can tell you, it is extremely necessary organizations (of all sizes) have crisis management plans in place. Unfortunate events aren’t always predictable, but sometimes it’s the response that leaves a bigger impact.