I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Yang Cheng, Assistant Professor of Public Relations, Department of Communication at North Carolina State University, on her research paper about the role of social media in crisis management.
In the interview she stresses a couple of points:
- Look beyond the company responses: Companies need to go further than monitoring their own strategies and responses to a crisis. It is vital to look at your stakeholders’ responses too. And since the definition of a stakeholder is someone who can have an impact on your business, in the age of cell phones with cameras, that could be anybody.
- Social media has empowered the public: Stakeholders now play an important role in a crisis and often lead the agenda or trigger the crisis. (Think United Airlines recent crisis. Without the rapid transmission of the videos taken by other passengers it would not have been such a huge public debacle.}
- Social media requires new crisis management strategies: The paper looks at the need for new strategies to be included in crisis management plans. For example, the research found that Twitter is far more effective at transmission of information during a crisis than traditional media. Stakeholders use social media to gather and share information and to release emotional responses, so it has to taken into account in your crisis plan.
Listen to the interview with Yang Cheng. (unfortunately there is only the voice recording- no video.)
You can read the full paper here.