How To Survive a Social Media PR Crisis

Anthony and social media snafus

A few weeks ago we gave you a recap of Social Media Meltdowns a la Anthony Weiner, and now we're back for more! Except this time, we’re here to tell you how to recover from a social media PR crisis should it happen to you.

1. Apologize
It sounds simple because it is. The first step to recovering from a social media blunder is to apologize. Plain and simple.

2. Don’t Lie
If there’s one thing that Anthony Weiner has taught us it’s that lying about an embarrassing social media faux pas will only make things worse in the long run. Nobody’s buying the old “I’m not sure if it’s me in that photo” excuse so it’s best to own up as soon as possible - before you start losing credibility.

Lying about doing something bad only adds insult to injury.  Own up while you still can. People will be more likely to forgive you if they don’t feel deliberately deceived.

3. Use the Medium
This is one case where a press release simply won’t cut it. The people who are tweeting about your brand are not the same ones who will pay attention to corporate press releases prepared by your PR firm. If your slipup happened on Twitter or Facebook, you can bet your bottom dollar that people will be tuning into your brand page or feed on those networks to find your response.

4. Don’t Wait
Don’t wait to act. News spreads fast online so if you don’t quash any negative talk early on, you risk letting rumors grow out of control.

Make a statement early on to reduce speculation and avoid having to answer questions like “Why did you wait until now to address this?”

5. Take Action
If an action needs to be taken, then take it! Make sure you explain the actions you plan on taking and your reasons for doing so. If you are going to fire an offending employee or refund a swath of disgruntled customers, your followers and fans should be made aware. Proving that you are proactive is a crucial step towards repairing a damaged image.

6. Be Genuine
Avoid the stiff language of typical corporate apologies –you can save that for the press release. The social space is better suited to more casual and informal language. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t take the issue seriously, but a stiff apology isn’t going to win you any admirers.  Find a way to address the issue in a manner that is both professional and accessible.

7. Don’t be Defensive
If you think people won’t recognize a non-apology apology, you’re wrong.

  • Apologies that start with “I’m sorry you were offended by….” imply that the offendee is at fault for being offended.
  • Apologies that start with “I’m sorry we offended you but it wasn’t really such a big deal…” marginalize any offense felt by your follower base.

Both types of defensive apologies should be avoided. Be honest with yourself. Did you mess up? If the answer is yes, then say so.

8. Continue to Post
Don’t act like nothing happened, but don’t resort to radio silence either. Continue to address any lingering issues and comments as they arise.


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