Social Media and a Disaster Waiting to Happen

Scottish Media Training, media training consultancy based in Edinburgh is about to introduce a new ‘Social Media in a Crisis’ training module for businesses in Scotland and it’s timing couldn’t be more poignant. Indeed, we thought of calling up and offering our services to Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook UK’s Group Chief Operating Officer, since he and his colleagues have been very much in the thick of crisis and reputation management of late.

Managing a crisis should never be too far from your thoughts. Crisis, of course, don’t happen at your time of choosing.

Look at the furore over Thomas Cook’s handling of the fall out over the tragic deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd in Crete.  It happened nine years ago, yet its the PR disaster gift which keeps on giving.   Through it, Thomas Cook has lurched from one negative situation to another, when all it needed was to show some compassion, sensitivity and honesty in its approach and  the reputation of one of the biggest names in travel would have been salvaged.

The tried and tested mechanisms of crisis management seemed to have been lost on Thomas Cook and their reputation is going to take a long while to recover.

This has been played out across press, radio and television, but what about Social Media?

Thomas Cook has had a torrid time of it on Twitter, but more so on Facebook. A group to boycott the firm grew arms and legs overnight and the company’s reputation has been generally kicked around like an over-inflated football on social media.

How do they recover from that ? It remains to be seen of course.

In the age of social media, even the slightest predicament can quickly gain momentum and get out of control. If you are prepared, it’s much easier to manage your company’s reputation and come through a crisis unharmed.

Two things can cause a social media crisis. First, external factors such as a natural disaster, human tragedy or something related to your industry can cause people to reach out to your social media accounts. Second, a social media crisis can be initiated on the platform itself due to an insensitive tweet or inappropriate picture, for example. In either case the result is that your social media accounts explode.

Waiting for a social media crisis to blow over is never an option. If you ignore it, it will likely get worse. Social media can be an asset in a crisis when used correctly, not an extra problem.

Scottish Media Training’s ‘Social Media in a Crisis’module is now available in Scotland. Simple fill in our Contact Form and we’ll get back in touch