The first step in crisis communications planning is learning to listen to those conversations now—before a crisis strikes. An effective listening strategy has several benefits:
• Discover early warning signs of negative or false information that can trigger a crisis, if left unattended.
• Identify your key critics and watchdogs, key influencers and advocates.
• Identify which social media channels best suit your organizational culture, and which ones your stakeholders frequent.
• Follow your competitors and discover what is engaging and trending in your sector.
• Uncover ethical blind spots your organization may have.
There are six key conversations you should monitor in your listening strategy:
1. Brand (in new media): Listen to what is being said in the digital space about your brand. It’s important to track sentiment (do people speak positively or negatively about you?) as well as key messages.
2. Brand (in tradition media): Listen to what is being said in print, radio, TV, and other traditional channels about your brand? Again, tracking sentiment is important.