This story was originally published on PR Daily in August 2011.
Heading out of the office and leaving work behind has never been terribly easy, but as our work becomes more digitally interactive—especially on social networks—leaving it behind for a vacation is more cumbersome than simply setting your phone and email to “out of office.”
Today, it’s impossible to get an “out of office” from a tweet, Facebook post, or blog comment. At best, you’ll look as though you’re ignoring your community. At worse, your reputation (or that of your client’s) could be on the line while you’re sipping margaritas on the beach.
So, I offer you the following considerations:
Vacation or not, no one person should be the keeper of all logins and passwords for your agency or client’s social properties. Keep a spreadsheet of all of the pertinent information, and make sure others in the office know where it is, and how to access it. (This should already be part of your crisis communications plan.)
We operate in a transparent world. If you’re planning to go on vacation, it’s not unheard of to say so. You don’t need to share pertinent details of your family trip, but a message on your agency accounts telling people specifically when they can expect to hear from you can work well for you. Consider something like:
“I'm on vacation through the end of the week and will be back on Monday. I am checking email and Twitter DMs daily, but not responding until my return. For immediate needs, please contact Julie in the office.”
Find a backup
Whether you have the luxury of taking time off from your agency’s posts, your clients’ businesses are going to keep running. To fill the void in either location, consider lining up some guest bloggers or pre-writing some posts to go live while you’re gone. Assign a backup community manager to engage on your other properties (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) where you have an active community. (This might be a nice time to encourage more community-generated content to lighten your load.)
Have a plan for monitoring
You can head out of the office, but that won't stop people from talking about you or your clients online while you are away. You can not afford to take a vacation from monitoring these conversations. Crises hit when we least expect them, and you don't want to be caught unaware. In his guest post on the Radian6 blog, Aaron Friedman offers advice for prioritizing mentions and assigning someone to respond in a timely manner. Again, you’re going to need to rely on your team (unless you plan to be tethered to your smartphone), but some realistic planning can go a long way to ensure that things are being covered while you’re away.
Kary Delaria is a digital PR strategist and social media monitoring and measurement specialist for Kane Consulting, a Minneapolis-based social media firm that specializes in cross-channel integration. You can find her on Twitter, @KaryD, or reach her via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. A version of this story first appeared on the Minnesota Public Relations Blog.