Since the advent of digital in the 21st century, it has become more difficult to combat crisis by most organizations.
In those days when traditional media were dominant, experts in the Integrated Marketing Communications industry, especially the Public Relations arm, could prevent crisis before it gets to the media.
These days with the proliferation of the social media and citizen journalism, members of the public could post damaging pictures or messages about a brand online which could cause crisis in such an organization.
To avert this major problem, Public Relations professionals were educated on ways to adequately prevent crisis during the second edition of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Lagos State Chapter, Digital PR Summit which was held at the Nigerian Institute of Management, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Vice President, Corporate Communications & CSR, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Emeka Opara, who was the guest lecturer at the event, delivered a paper titled: “Best Use of Social Media in a Crisis.”
Opara, while listing some of the tips that PR professionals should embrace in the 21st century to prevent crisis in the digital era, said that one of such ways was for the PR practitioners to listen carefully to what people are saying on the social media platforms about their clients’ companies.
He noted that there are several tools that the PR pro could use in listening to what is happening on the social media, stating that, one of such tools is quintly.
Quintly is the social media analytics and benchmarking tool used by most professionals in the social media.
According to him, apart from knowing what is happening on the social media platforms, quintly as a tool helps in knowing the performance of the organization in the different social media platforms.
He explained that quintly is a social media analytics tool that helps brand owners track, benchmark and optimize their social media performance, noting that “By using quintly, you can benchmark your own numbers against your competitors’ and derive an optimal social media strategy.”
The Airtel boss further said that with quintly, an organization can get valuable competitor insights and data like never seen before; emphasizing that it can benchmark the organization’s social media performance with best-practice examples and competitors in every possible way.
MAKE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU DO
Opara stressed that a PR professional must allow the public to know what his client (Organization) does.
He added that the people must know whether the organization is into manufacturing, providing services and what have you, noting that there are some situations that could lead to crisis and if the public is already abreast of what the organization is into and they realize that the crisis did not fall within that confine, they would ignore it.
According to Opara, immediate response to customers request or complains about the brand or the organization is a critical tip that PR practitioners should take cognizance of.
He added that sometimes saying sorry to customers when they lay complaints about the services of a brand could go a long way in retaining the loyalty of that consumer and is likely to even woo others who see the response from the organization.
According to him, if there is a crisis situation, it is better for the organization to come all out immediately to tell the public what led to the crisis and measures that the organization has put in place to curb it, stressing that it was wrong for PR pros managing the reputation of an organization to keep mute during a crisis as that could lead to speculations that could further worsen the problem.
DO NOT LOOSE YOUR COOL
He emphasized that no matter what the customer does, a PR professional should not loose his/her cool in dealing with that customer.
He explained that a response in aggression from the PR person could snowball into a bigger crisis if not well managed.
“It doesn’t matter what the people or customers say. Don’t get angry unnecessarily”, Opara cautioned.
HAVE A TEAM IN PLACE
The Airtel boss added that to effectively prevent crisis within an organization the PR professional should get a team in place that would monitor and look out for situations that could snowball into crisis and prevent them from happening.
MANAGE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY
He noted that every organization needs to have a social media policy, stressing that such policy should be managed appropriately. He further explained that a social media policy provides guidance for employee use of social media, which should be broadly understood by both the employee and the management.
Citing the example of some organizations which educate their employees on how to use the social media in a bit to ensure that they do not put the organization in crisis through the usage of the social media platforms, he stressed that it is the duty of the PR professional to help the organization to manage its social media policy in order to build good reputation about the company in the social media space.
GET EXPERIENCED PEOPLE TO MANAGE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
Opara stressed that getting the right people with the needed expertise and experience will go a long way to prevent crisis in an organization. He added that PR experts should not only be abreast of the relevance of digital but should strive to know how to use the digital platforms.
According to him, experienced personnel should be the ones that should manage the social media for their clients as they would help in averting crisis when such circumstances arise.
Transparency which depicts that an organization is honest in dealing with issues will go a long way in managing a crisis, as Opara opined.
He is of the view that PR practitioners should try their best possible to ensure that they tell the truth about what their clients are doing at all times, noting that it was one of the ways of averting major crisis in their organizations.