7 Quick Tips for Managing Social Media In a Crisis

In 60 seconds online, there are 448,800 Tweets posted, 3.3 Million Facebook Posts and 3.8 Million Google searches conducted. Today, information is transmitted unbelievably fast and can become a problem for brands dealing with a crisis. Here are seven tips that will ensure you’re prepared when crisis strikes.

1) Have a Social Media Policy

You may be confident that all your employees exercise discretion when it comes to conducting themselves online, but not outlining a social media policy and having clear guidelines is a mistake. Remember that your employees are brand ambassadors and inappropriate or discriminatory posts on their social media pages still reflect poorly on you.

2) Monitor Social Media

It’s important to be on top of your brand's current online sentiment. The longer you go without addressing negative posts, the worse the situation gets. 

3) Get All the Facts, Quickly

Information spreads on social media platforms at a rapid speed, and your stakeholders are waiting for your statement. Furthermore, the longer you go without comment, the longer incorrect or unfair information has to make its way around the Internet.  Of course, it’s important that information is correct and verifying details takes time, just recognize the urgency of the situation.

4) Own it, and Apologize

Never underestimate the power of an apology. Time and again, we’ve seen that companies that apologize swiftly and sincerely improve public perception faster.

5) Address Negative Comments

It’s important for the reputation of your brand to address negative comments posted on your social media pages while maintaining a respectful tone. 

6) Pause Scheduled Posts

Nothing will turn off your customers more in a crisis than having a post that’s out of context. Be sure to turn off all scheduled posts until the crisis has settled down. Even after it's over, be sure to review previously scheduled posts to ensure they’re still appropriate.

7) Update Website

Consider putting a FAQ page on your website that has detailed information about the incident. That way, when you tweet out updates regarding the situation, you can include a link that has critical information for stakeholders. 

We’re experts at managing social media and crisis communications at Alchemy Communications, contact us today for a free consultation to discuss how we can help your organization.




Well Handled: What You Can Learn From 3 Businesses That Successfully Managed a Crisis

From Uber to United Airlines, we’ve seen some PR fiascos this year that have shown us what NOT to do when a crisis breaks. Although we can learn some valuable lessons from other’s missteps while managing a PR issue, it’s worthwhile to review some well-managed crisis situations. In this post, we’ll highlight how Taco Bell, The American Red Cross and Tylenol managed their own PR disasters. 

Taco Bell: “Seasoned Beef” Lawsuit (2011) 

Taco Bell’s parent company, Yum! Brands was sued by the Alabama law firm Beasley, Allen, Crown Methvin, Portis & Miles on behalf of Taco Bell customer Amanda Obney, who wanted a court to order Taco Bell to be honest in its advertising. The suit claimed that Taco Bell was lying in its advertising and the company’s “seasoned beef” contained only 35% beef. Taco Bell denied that its advertising was misleading and spokesperson, Rob Poetsch, said the company would “vigorously defend the suit.” Indeed, the company fought back, largely on social media platforms. In a video uploaded on YouTube, Greg Creed, Taco Bell’s President explains the food chain’s beef is composed of 88% beef and the other 12% is a secret, which he goes onto list every ingredient in the video. In the end, the majority of Twitter comments were supportive of Taco Bell and less than four months later, the lawsuit was dropped. 

What we learned: Being transparent in a crisis situation is critical – customers will reward you for it. 

American Red Cross Rogue Tweet (2011) 

Red Cross social media specialist, Gloria Huang caused herself some embarrassment when she accidentally posted a rogue tweet on the American Red Cross’ Twitter account. 

The tweet was intended for her personal page, and she later blamed her “inability to use HootSuite” for the error. The rogue tweet stayed up for about an hour before it was taken down with subsequent, lighthearted apologies.  

What’s great is that Dogfish Head Brewery used the rogue tweet to encourage both donations to the Red Cross and consumption of their beer on their twitter handle in response to the tweet. 

What we learned: Firstly, if you’re responsible for your organization's social media posting, always double-check what you’re posting. Secondly, as long as the rogue tweet wasn’t offensive, it’s okay to have a sense of humour about errors such as these. After all, customers continually state in research they like brands that have a personality online. 

Tylenol Murders (1982) 

By October 1, 1982, seven lives in the Chicago area were lost after a poisoning spree in which the killer bought Extra-Strength Tylenol bottles, injected them with cyanide and sneaked them back onto the shelves of drug and grocery stores. Unfortunately, the case has never been solved, but Johnson & Johnson, the parent-company of Tylenol, has been widely praised for how they handled the disaster. Without a suspect in the case, Johnson & Johnson quickly recalled an estimated 31 million bottles of Tylenol products, a retail value of over US $100 million. The company halted Tylenol production and advertising. What’s more, Johnson & Johnson took out ads in national media to inform consumers to avoid any of its products that contained acetaminophen. In addition to the recall, the company worked with the Chicago Police Department, the FBI, and the Food and Drug Administration. Not surprisingly, the market share of Tylenol collapsed during that period but had rebounded in less than a year, which has been attributed to the effective response of the company. When Tylenol was reintroduced into the market, it had a new, triple-sealed package. 

What we learned: It cost Johnson & Johnson millions of dollars to manage this crisis well, but the short-term financial loss was well worth it in the long-run. Although recalls and disruption to production and advertising are costly, you’ll lose more in the long-run if it’s not done. 

Alchemy Communications has specialized knowledge and experience working with businesses to develop and execute effective crisis communications plans. Contact us today for a free consultation















3 Reasons to Invest in Crisis Communications Media Training for Your Business

Whether you’re just starting your business or are well-established, there is no shortage of costs associated with running your business. As a business owner, you may feel investing in public relations, and particularly crisis communications training is unnecessary.  However, this is a mistake – a well-prepared crisis communication plan can prevent a full-blown PR fiasco and save your companies hard earned reputation. Below are three reasons to invest in a crisis communication plan. 

1)    A Crisis Situation is Inevitable 

Although months and years may go by without an incident, eventually a crisis will occur. Crisis situations arise from natural disasters, health and safety issues, problematic employees and so on. Additionally, your brand reputation can be damaged just by being associated with another company in crisis (i.e. being a supplier). There isn’t a business or industry that is immune to dealing with a crisis, and they arise unpredictably.  

2)    Crisis Situations are Costly 

Crisis situations can have a dramatic effect on company valuation and cash flow, for a business of any size. In March 2017, CBC’s Go Public team aired a story about TD Bank employees admittedly increasing customer’s overdraft and credit limits without their knowledge to meet aggressive sales targets outlined by the bank. In the segment, employees discussed how they feared to lose their job if they didn’t meet their sales quota.  On March 10, 2017, in a single-day, the bank’s stock dropped 5.6 percent and erased all the gains it had made for 2017.  The share price for Chipotle Mexican Grill plunged after an E. coli outbreak affected dozens of customers in 2015 and took months to recover.  Stock sell-offs and lawsuits resulting from crisis situations are incredibly damaging for large corporations, but small-businesses without the same resources can ultimately face bankruptcy. 

3)    A Poorly Worded Response Makes a Bad Situation Worse 

Crisis situations attract a lot of attention from mainstream and social media. When a company releases a statement in response to a crisis, you can guarantee it will be scrutinized. History has shown that weak responses can make an already bad situation worse.  Canadian athletic retailer, Lululemon, faced intense backlash after its founder, Chip Wilson, made inappropriate comments in a television interview about women's body shapes being the culprit of see-through pants after widespread complaints about pants being "too sheer.” Not only did Lululemon take a financial hit after having to recall 17% of all women’s pants sold in stores, but Wilson exasperated many people with his remarks. Since you don’t think as clearly in crisis mode, comments can very well be received poorly by the public.  

An experienced crisis communications expert can help develop a crisis management plan to positively influence the public perception of your brand before, during and after a crisis breaks. Contact us today to learn more.  





Media Relations and Your Business: 3 Ways to Control Your Message


From Pepsi to McDonald’s, with the advent of social media, it’s become easier than ever to have your message misinterpreted or manipulated. These are just a few basic ways that your business can better control your message, ensuring that you don’t end up as yet another PR case study.

1. Have a Strong Crisis Communications Strategy

The most sure-fire way of controlling your messaging is having a strong crisis communications plan. A little bit of planning goes a long way when the unexpected arises, as was the case with a recent incident on board an American Airlines flight. By taking swift action, the company avoided the large-scale social media fallout. This is in stark contrast to United Airlines, whose seeming lack of proper crisis communications etiquette led to a massive international PR disaster, from which they still have yet to fully recover.


2. Respond on Social Media

Through social media, you can better understand how individuals view your business or brand, and gauge whether or not your message is resonating. While there will occasionally be some people that are never satisfied, you can still gain valuable insight from different individuals. Be sure to be receptive to comments from social media, particularly in the middle of the crisis.


3. Be Consistent with your “Voice”

Whether it’s through press releases, or over social media, consistency is essential in message control. Before launching a wide-scale campaign, be sure to ask yourself: how do I want people to view my business, and what is the general “tone” in my industry? For example, a medical research agency that publishes “clickbait” articles of questionable veracity will likely see brand dilution. In contrast, a brand like Denny’s, well known for being a place most people go to after a hangover, takes on a tone consistent with that image.

Remember: if you don’t take control of your message, someone else will.



The Do's and Don'ts of Events in the Age of Social Media

Social media has made it easier than ever to help share and promote your company’s events. Unfortunately, this also means that when things do not go according to plan, everyone can and will hear about it. This was the case with last month’s Fyre Festival, a music festival touted as a luxury “glamping” experience that is now facing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of lawsuits due to less than stellar accommodations. These are a few strategies you can employ to make sure that your next event runs smoothly.

A Tale of Two Ads: What can we learn from Pepsi and Heineken?

In the age of social media, it can sometimes feel like for every opinion you hold, there’s someone else who feels just as strongly in the opposite direction, and that casual dialogue is impossible. Two recent advertisements from Pepsi and Heineken tried to capitalize on this sentiment, with vastly different results. Today, we’re exploring why one of these ads was a massive success, and the other resulted in numerous public apologies.