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Drama Shield…Activate!

We are more than midway through a year that has become known for dramatic headlines, Internet trolling and PR crises. Social media has taught us more than ever this year that no company is immune from crisis. Small mistakes that were once swept under the rug now spread like wildfire across social channels, and while no superhuman strength or super power can stop it, implementing an action plan can help you protect your image and your bottom line.

When we said no company is immune from crisis, we meant it. Take Walmart. The big box retailer has withstood the test of time and proven it is a powerful commerce giant. But, this week, it took a hit. Walmart’s ecommerce site sells items from third-party vendors. One of its vendors listed a product containing a racial slur. It wasn’t Walmart’s product but one might ask, how a description that contains slurs get passed the editing and/or proofing process in the marketing department at Walmart? How does a company of this size have such a grand mistake?

The mistake set off a negative chain of events — major social media backlash (even involving celebrities, which drew greater attention), damaging national headlines and declining sales, leaving Walmart no choice but to issue an apology.

Walmart said this is a “clear violation of our policy” and that it was “appalled that this third-party seller listed their item with this description on our online marketplace.” Walmart is currently investigating the seller.

With social media accounts integrated with nearly every smart phone (80 percent of millennials have their smartphone at their side, day and night (Google, 2015). And, with 1.13 billion daily active users on Facebook alone, nearly every organization is at risk.

Additionally, the number one tactic to handle customer creation and engagement currently is SEO presence. By creating more content that can be found via search, and distributing and amplifying content over social media, the risk multiplies. Chances are high that companies will eventually make a mistake with online content that can so easily go viral.

A public relations plan that includes a crisis strategy is more of a priority than ever before. Also, there is a lot companies can do on their own to minimize social drama.

Diversify proofing. Assign a few editors or highly qualified people in your organization to proofread your work. By having diverse group proof your content, you minimize mistakes and possibly offending someone, and you have the opportunity to consider different points of view.

Modernize your mobile. Integrate apps on your mobile device with your social media tools to help you be aware of reviews first. Don’t let a poor review linger for days until it is caught.

Disrupt the ‘dis.’ If someone has a negative remark about your organization and it is posted online in front of a mass audience, consider disrupting the flow. This may be in the form of understanding the person’s need, asking additional questions, finding an appropriate way to correct the issue and nurturing the connection. Think about doing the unexpected.

Act fast. Respond quickly (but thoughtfully).

Know your apology. Don’t issue a canned response. Make sure your response is sincere and appropriate for the situation.

Multimedia channel. Consider incorporating video and a multitude of channels into a statement or response. YouTube has more than a billion users, almost one-third of all people on the Internet(YouTube, 2016).

No matter where you post, you can do your part to keep the villains at bay. And, if you need to add in a few super powers, National Strategies PR has you covered. For more information, give us a call at (813) 865-3093.

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