Three of the most important rules of crisis communications for traditional press and broadcast media are just as relevant to social media. They are:
It has always been vital to respond to a crisis proactively rather than reactively. This means getting your message out there either before the story breaks or as soon as possible afterward.
When there were just daily newspapers and scheduled news programs, your deadlines were clearly defined, but with the advent of rolling news and citizen journalism, the faster you can be, the better. It may be tempting to delay things by saying “no comment” or just staying silent, but this makes it much easier for the media and public to assume the worst.
It can also be tempting to spend valuable time refining your message, running it through committees and approval processes. Don’t. The most important thing is that you put your head above the parapet and give a reasonable response.
It is vital to keep the media and public on your side. Ideally, this process will have started before any crisis occurs, through fostering relationships with journalists, bloggers and, of course, your customers.