On March 5, members of Illinois State University’s PRSSA attended the Central Illinois PRSA Chapter dinner. At the event, keynote speaker Laurel Hart spoke about “Social Media and Crisis Communications: Best Practices and New Strategies.”
The dinner, held locally at Swingers Grille, began with 45 minutes of networking, followed by an Italian buffet enjoyed by attendees before Hart’s presentation. She gave details about crisis communication and defined a crisis. She defines a crisis as a crucial or decisive turning point.
Hart discussed a variety of examples where companies have encountered crises and how they were able or not able to handle the problem at hand. One of the examples that Hart briefly talked about was the BP oil spill that happened in 2010. She pointed out that their plan was not updated and even had the name of a deceased colleague. She concluded this example by pointing out that any company should always have an updated crisis plan.
Hearing from Hart was helpful for members and learning the importance of quickly identifying the problem, and having a crisis plan. Any crisis is immediately on a time limit because of the ambiguity that can build up when a company does not speak out quickly. Hart also spoke about how companies are able to reach out to customers through social media. Social media helps the company reach out to the public in a timely fashion. Social media can also be used to resolve or amplify a crisis, depending on how it is used. If used properly, social media can clarify a situation and address a current issue. It is also a great platform to enhance a company’s personal brand.
In all, Hart’s presentation gave great advice on how to deal with a crisis. Whether it is personal or within a company, it is necessary to identify the problem and plan for its recovery. The appropriate tools, such as social media, should be considered in maintaining a reputation.
By Analita Voss
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.