Bad News Travels Fast

With the advent of internet, social media, instant messaging, and microblogging, news travels faster and to a wider audience than ever before. Such outlets allow news to travel world wide faster than gossip in a high school lunch room, even all the way to the great AK! For the public relations industry this means that bad news travels fast and damage control must be able to act swiftly at managing and dealing with negative buzz.

Sharlyn Lauby, president of Internal Talent Management, offers 5 tips for successful social media damage control on her recently blog post for

Her introduction offers a way to simply minimize social media damage through two steps: foster a positive culture and train employees on the proper use of social media tools. Fostering a positive culture rests on the old idea that happy employees lead to happy customers. By keeping your employees happy you are controlling the need for damage control by helping your employees give the best possible service. Training your employees on the proper use to social media speaks for itself.  If your employees can properly use social media tools it can improve the image of your company.

Lauby’s five tips for social media damage control after the fact are:

1. Monitor social media sites 24/7

2. Respond quickly with a consistent message

3. Reply to the social media world

4. Educate employees on social media messaging

5. Develop a crisis strategy

I agree with Lauby’s tips and find them very useful. Monitoring social media sites is very important. You can’t know how to respond to a situation unless you know what’s going on in the social media world and what people are saying. Respond quickly with a consistent message is key. If you leave room for people to make up their own minds because of a lack of information they will. Communicating with your public is crucial for damage control and all your employees need to be on board with your message.

Replying to the social media world is also a great tip. You wouldn’t let someone bad mouth you and not stand up for yourself,social media damage control is the same way. You have a right to tell your side of the story and offer your thoughts. Educating employees on social media messaging is important as well. Social media is continually growing in use and popularity, becoming social media savvy is going to be just as important as being familiar with common software.

Developing a crisis plan is always a good idea. Plan for the best, but always prepare for the worst. Also it is always a good idea to keep your company out of trouble rather than dealing with trouble when it blows up in your face or more than likely, on your computer screen.

– Kyla Morris


1 Comment

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One response to “Bad News Travels Fast

  1. Great post Kyla, I totally agree with Lauby’s perspective on how to minimize social media damage. You can’t just expect that your team/employees will know how to react to negative buzz or comments if they never learned how to properly use social media tools. It’s inevitable that someone out there is going to post an unfavorable comment, especially if your client is a large company. The smart thing to do is to be ready for that moment.
    There was a case with Diet Pepsi back in 1994 where Diet Pepsi ran into trouble when consumers discovered foreign objects in cans of Diet Pepsi. A variety of different objects were said to be found, including a syringe and bullet. Since Diet Pepsi knew that there was absolutely no way for these objects to be inserted during the bottling process. Consequently, the company decided to use a defensive strategy and claiming their innocence. By communicating openly with the public and allowing their bottling process to be shown on the news, Diet Pepsi was able to quickly rebound from the situation. In this case, temporary damage was done, but their response to the crisis was commendable.
    It’s just interesting to think of how different things would have been handled had this happened since social media got popularized. On one end, there could have been a lot more damage because of social media users, and on the other end, the damage control would have been dramatically different as well.
    It just comes to show how there is always a pro and con to new media technology!

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