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An argument for just blogging

March 8, 2010

The world doesn’t often need another blog. Heck, the world might not need this blog.

When crisis hits a brand, having the social media tools helps a great deal. We have a case study on how one of our clients was able to handle a crisis through Twitter, YouTube and blogging. They used existing social media tools that had histories to address a crisis.

When thinking about the most recent brand things we would label a crisis one comes to mind. SeaWorld.

The trending topics on Twitter are often the barometer of a crisis. So when Shamu was trending, there was a good chance that it was bad news. And there was.

Using their Twitter page, they put up a response:

I took a screen shot of their Twitter page, with what looks like a Whale and a handler. This indicates that everything is back to normal, “we’re not running away from what we do”, etc. The page also supports the other social media elements in their campaign.

The blog post this Twitter post links to is a response to a tragedy. It’s not my place to analyze the type of response, we have crisis professionals at EMA, but it’s interesting to note where the response was written: on a blog.

To add to the crisis, Shamu has a Twitter feed that is shut down.

Now, it’s easy to say that this whole Twitter feed was a dumb idea, but I don’t think that’s fair. Bringing Shamu to life on Twitter might have fit their marketing objectives. But I do wonder if someone thought about the what if’s that a crisis person must consider. When one looks at the Twitter picture of a smiling whale holding its belly, one wonders if the PR people know about this image.

An argument for a blog:

The thing is, when a crisis hits, it’s easy to start a Twitter feed and engage immediately. Seaworld didn’t do that, but we’ve done that for a client. What isn’t easy though, is starting a blog. But having a blog is an excellent way to address, discuss and attempt to control a crisis.

Control might be the wrong word, but addressing misinformation, updating people on new information, and generally adding a human touch “This is from our CEO” at a time of crisis is critical.

Timing is important. Reactions are good, and a little history didn’t hurt. SeaWorld’s blog was established in 2009. Again, all that means is that the blog wasn’t started to combat the crisis, but could be used immediately for that purpose.

For the record, a Facebook page can be used to accomplish the same thing. Indeed, it most likely will become crisis central regardless of a blog or not. SeaWorld’s Facebook page is also being used to address fans.

Having a blog is good. Having a crisis plan is better.

It’s taking the worst possible scenario — a killer whale killing, employees of Domino’s filming themselves doing gross things to the food, etc, and thinking about how and where the brand will respond.

The purpose of a fire drill is to know where to exit a burning building. A social media crisis drill would detail where and how the brand would exit a burning situation.

So what do you think? Are we at the point where starting a blog is smart for a brand just in case something happens? Should each brand draft a crisis preparedness document?

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