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Head in the sand means bum in the air...the challenges of social media

When things go wrong are you ready to respond? As global events in the news clearly show, the media rules and the old playbooks are being torn up. The press and media are changing, but are you? Is your message evolving and the means of delivering it actually fit for purpose?

Whatever your business, no-one is immune from this change, and we all need to react positively. This is about finding the ways of managing and responding to the challenges of protecting and safeguarding reputations when things go wrong - of winning new clients when the dust settles and of keeping old ones. This is about the very survival of businesses in an ever tightening market.

With so many different responsibilities it can be all too tempting to overlook or perhaps to struggle in fully embracing “media management” - until something goes wrong that is.

Even companies who face major problems can emerge well if they handle the fallout well. Yes the media may scrutinise details, but in dealing with the issue head on, by communicating effectively problems can ultimately been turned into positives for any company. Actually, that is the secret - to shape your truth in such a way as to confront problems, but in a way which helps audiences to understand what has happened, and more than that, what will happen now.

There is a truism - if you bury your head in the sand, then your backside is in the air. Individuals and companies alike are at their most vulnerable while blithely ignoring things which are incredibly important.

Being able to respond sensitively, intelligently and in the right channels in the right way - these are the secrets of success when communicating in a crisis.

Maersk has recently been through some challenging times, and when one of their vessels grounded off Sicily - their response was positive and engaged. The facts were set out, so that speculation could be avoided and they provided enough detail for actual information to fill the void.

Sadly it is speculation which often fuels social media. There becomes the power of the mob as message threads grow and images, news and video are spread virally.

Social media can all too easily become a kangaroo court, as trolls eager to stir problems become judge, jury and executioner. Without facts even those online who would like to moderate the debate and who will seek to defend companies struggle - so while the temptation can be to shy away, that can make things worse.

Having to deal with the press, or even the glare of social media can be a difficult proposition, but facts, communication and engagement shine the light of truth into the darkness...that can make the difference and turn a bad story into a non-story. Move along, nothing to see here.

At McWatt & Jones we specialise in assisting companies with their planning for crisis communications. So get in touch and let's discuss what we can do for you. Whether it is training, checking through your existing plans or just a chat about the dangers of social media, we'd love to hear from you. Email

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