Tactics for online crisis management

Posted on July 16, 2008 
Filed Under Crisis communications, Social Media

From the Obama campaign’s FightTheSmears.com to Coca-Cola’s Facts and Myths page, it is becoming increasingly clear that an always-on online presence is necessary to fight against rumour mongers, disgruntled ex-employees, speculators and brand terrorists.

The new front in reputation management is online. Corporations, institutions political parties, celebrities and non-profits need to get streetsmart in social media skills fast or find themselves easy targets for the smear artists.

The only defence seems to be pro-active vigilance and, if needed, a rumour-fighting, hoax-killing, myth-shattering website of your own. The faster you get your message out – accurately and with a credible voice, the better to protect your rep online.

Marty Weintraub has 8 ways toput up a defence on the search engine optimization front at the aimClear blog.

The gist:

1. PAGERANK: Evaluate the authority of the page on which the negative content is published. Take a look at PageRank and inbound links profile using Yahoo Site Explorer.

2.GO LEGAL: If search results violate copyright or trademark laws, fire the first salvo through your law firm with a cease and desist order. (Be a realist though. Some insolent jerk halfway around the world won’t give a rat’s ass about your attorney’s saber rattling.)

3.WATCH OUT FOR VIRAL BACKFIRE: My grandmother says never to “get into a pissing contest with a skunk. Even if you win…you stink.” Build your content to outrank the perpetrator’s.

4.CALL IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERT: I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen a business person, who has no experience in social media, climb into a comments thread and make things SO much worse. If you’re not a regular contributer in a specific social media channel, learning the vernacular while under duress is not the best choice.

5.ENGAGE: Start with classic high road messages of respect and understanding: “I understand your position,” “respect your right to express your feelings in public,” “am grateful for the opportunity to engage in a dialog” and “what can we do to make things right?”

6.NUKE ‘EM: There are non-white hat methods available to ‘eliminate’ the problem.

7.CONSIDER PAID SEARCH: This is short-term “lesser of all evils” option.

8.DITCH FLASH: One of our newer clients came to us under assault from a disgruntled former customer. Our client’s website was entirely a Flash movie, literally with no deep indexing. Solving the “crises” was as simple as re-publishing the site in HTML with Flash elements instead of a full Flash movie.



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