15 Tips to Help Regulated Industries Plan for Crisis Readiness

Often times organizations in highly regulated industries (pharma, healthcare, medical device and financial) shy away from social media and believe not having social channels is the best no-risk approach. However, these scenarios cause more harm during times of crisis management—when false claims shift customer and investor perception—because the brand is unable to provide the kind of timely responses that social allows.

The biggest risk to a brand is not owning the conversation when crisis occurs—therefore, the risk is higher for companies that are not social-ready. Not to fear: if the brand develops a strategic roadmap for success and has a team to support goals, they can see social media success in times of need. Below is an outline of social media crisis readiness best practices that are foundational for success in regulated industries.

The biggest risk to a brand is not owning the conversation when crisis occurs.

 

5 Steps to Crisis Management on Social for Regulated Industries

  1. Prepare a crisis policy that outlines various instances that could occur, timelines for resolution, and groups who’ll need to be involved. The policy (often called a playbook) should be presented to leadership for buy-in and approval, then communicated throughout the organization so all employees understand the role they take on as an employee of the organization. It’s important everyone knows they play a role post-crisis, that each employee should act as an extension of the brand and is equally responsible for maintaining the brand’s reputation.

  2. Put a crisis team in place – this will allow everyone to know their role when there is an emergency scenario. Members should include everyone who touches content creation, approvals and publishing. Sample crisis teams include Marketing, Public Relations, Legal, Compliance and Social. Often times enterprise organizations have multiple crisis teams that umbrella under each brand.

  3. Conduct a fire-drill exercise – each crisis team should go through an emergency exercise to demonstrate an awareness of their role, the cadence of actions and knowledge of how the team works in a high-stress environment. It’s essential that everyone knows each step of the process and what their role is. This drill will ensure preparedness across the teams and is important to demonstrate to leadership that if the time comes the right people are assigned to manage the crisis in the shortest amount of time possible.

  4. Prepare pre-approved content – It’s crucial to have crisis content prepared for use so the team can act fast to be part of the conversation. Importantly, specific content related to the matter will need to route for approval but having generic content ready to publish that acknowledges the brand has prioritized the matter is important. Having the ability to engage with people in sensitive times is vital—remember to always be authentic and brand-centric, even in times of crises and stress.

Pre-approved crisis content is crucial to your risk management process; it's important that you can join the conversation and start the recovery process ASAP.

 

  1. Providing leadership with a crisis strategy and proven readiness to act will be a driving factor for buy-in for social. It’s always great to speak of the many reasons social is imperative for brands from a marketing and engagement perspective, but it’s also important to keep top of mind the value in being able to drive a conversation in times of uncertainty. Remember, it’s always best to do the work up front, be prepared, have a knowledgeable team who understand the process and your organization will be ready to handle anything.

Social Crisis Readiness Checklist

Here are ten readiness actions for a crisis situation. This is of great help in maintaining poise and being able to concentrate on your top priority, the crisis policy.

1. Outline who each crisis team member is and their role.

2. Develop a contact list for everyone to get in contact with one another no matter the time (A crisis waits for no man).

3. Create a scenario document with detailed steps defined in the crisis policy and follow the plan step-by-step.

4. Develop a media list of contacts (work closely with your PR contact to ensure alignment with other outreach activities).

5. Develop a log of each place and story the crisis is represented, which should include where the content was posted, who authored the content, and if it's associated with any paid media.

6. Identify if there are any negative paid media amplifying the story if so, the crisis team needs to identify if a blunting campaign is part of the crisis strategy.

7 Evaluate if you want to drive people from social channels to your brand website (or reputation management microsite) to expand on crisis content engagement.

8. Schedule morning and afternoon crisis team meetings to ensure everyone is leveraging the scenario document properly and that the cadence of events is working properly.

9. Monitor engagement metrics and closely identify keywords to monitor so the team can identify insights and pivot outreach as needed.

10. Develop daily leadership reports showing a breakdown of engagement, keywords, sentiment, and identify any brand influencers that are engaging in the conversation.

  • If you have a highly regarded influencer who is willing to speak on behalf of the brand, it's good to monitor the engagement and impact of this activity closely.

 

Editor's note: Curious about even more strategies your brand can take to stay safe and strong on social? Join us at Smart Social New York April 17 and attend our workshop, To Serve & Protect Your Brand on Social.

 

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Ray Goforth is an innovative digital strategy expert who is focused on identifying emerging technology, behavior, and business trends. Her expertise is using this data to synthesize applicable strategy for companies. At Spredfast, Ray works with enterprise organizations to maximize strategies within the ever-changing digital landscape.