WEDNESDAY 28 NOV 2012 1:55 PM


Apple was ridiculed over its map app earlier this year and has responded by firing its mapping chief and issuing an apology. Yet, for weeks social channels were rife with bad Apple content. BP’s spill at Deepwater Horizon immediately sparked a corporate response via social media, but it was not effective at managing the crisis.

Crisis communications can make or break corporate reputation, especially in high-risk and high-visibility industries. Recent research by Watermelon Research and Good Relations has surveyed the social media crisis management plans of 100 British companies and found them lacking.

Some of the most striking findings show that over 40% of companies had no social media element in their existing crisis plans. Beyond that, 30% remain unsure of how social media could be used to manage a crisis. The research also examined the top mistakes companies make in crisis situations. The lack of planning, oversight and coordination of a social media response proliferates in British companies.

Head of issues and crisis at Good Relations, Malcolm Munro, says, “The golden rules of issues management still apply. You need to contain and control the developing situation by having the right procedures and protocols in place. But what has changed is that, in almost every case, social media has become the front line of any crisis and companies need to recognise and do something about it.”

Crisis communications experts at HarveyLeach and Blue Rubicon also point to preparation, strong leadership and internal cooperation as keys to success in using social media to manage a crisis.