Traditional crisis communication plans are designed so companies have structured statements, points on anticipated issues and other messages in place that are ready to go in such times of a crisis. As with any crisis, it is important for companies to remain transparent and honest in all of their communication. This transparency and honesty must be carried through all Facebook posts, blogs and Tweets that published during times of a crisis. As Tegan Ford discusses in her thesis featured on PR Conversations, companies must use social media as a tool to respond to a crisis immediately. Other tips for using social media during such times include:
– Two-way communication with publics
– Listening and responding to the audience
– Holding accountability (if necessary)
– Using compassion
– Continuously monitoring all social media platforms
An example of how social media crisis communication management can go wrong is Carnival’s attempt at managing the 2012 Costa Concordia disaster. The Costa Concordia cruise ship tragically capsized after striking rocky seawalls off the cost of Italy. The disaster claimed the lives of 32 passengers and injured a total of 64 people. Carnival’s CEO at the time Micky Arison limited his crisis communications to a handful of tweets on his Twitter account. Arison did not promptly visit the scene, nor did any of his senior executives. The response to the crisis was issued through a crafted PR statement, with Arison waiting a week before visiting the disaster. It was also noted that Carnival copied and pasted their responses to commenters on Facebook, showing no compassion to families or people who suffered from the disaster.