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Social Crises and the La-La-La-La Life Goes On Principle

Today's social crises is tomorrow's lesson learned.  In the interim, everyone will be pulling their hair out.  This is where I personally apply the La-La-La-La Life Goes On Principle.  This principle is as follows:

You cannot change other people's emotions in the heat of the moment

You know that life will go on tomorrow

Being calm, concerned and informed makes you an indispensable asset

You can support today and make sure everyone is prepared tomorrow

The natural inclination when confronting a potentially drastic unknown is to panic.  Social marketing is one area where a potential crisis is particularly daunting as crises tend to flair up faster than in traditional channels, and often with broader reach.  The best solution is to (a) prepare in advance, (b) educate the appropriate stakeholders along the way and (c) remember the La-La-La-La Life Goes On Principle.  Personally, I prefer to listen to the song.  It just helps.

Getting Prepared - 6 Point Checklist

  1. Define Social Crisis 
    What constitues a social crisis for your business?  Are their multiple tiers of crises or is this one size fits all?  What tools can/should be put into place in advance to identify or take action against a crisis?  What are the criteria for identifying an emerging crisis?  

    Just as importantly, be sure you have a some criteria or process defined for identifying when a crisis has ended.
  2. Identify Your Likely Crises 
    A particular busy season, product launch, product recall, cataclysmic failure, massive delays, loss of human life, senior management scandle, scaled or noteworthy customer service failure or a broader employee scandal... every organization has their list of usual suspects either on paper or in their subconsious.  Consider mapping out your most most probably potential crises and planning for them in advance.  In the case of seasonal challenges, consider the role of proactive communications.
  3. Engage Your Internal Leads - Line Up Your Owned/Earned/Paid Channels
    When the world is swirling around you and management is worried, everyone will start to put their two cents into the mix, offering their on the fly thoughts.  Timely organizational response demands that appropriate leads are engaged and that you have a strategy for dealing with those that want to help but aren't on your internal team.  Identify your Owned, Earned and Paid channels in advance and make sure you have an agreed upon approach and 24/7 contact information.
  4. Define Roles And Responsabilities - Set A Clear Plan Of Action
    Identify your needs in the event of a crisis.  Map these need to your organizational/departmental capabilities both internally as well as supporting agencies.  There will likely be areas of overlap between departments - build your hub and spoke solution based on collaboration communications needs.  The last thing you want is two teams building independant and conflicting approaches.

    Build a plan of action and a clear process document.  Build supporting materials, such as the appropriate supporting crises briefing templates.  

    Consider who will lead this cross-capability team.  When considering a candidate, consider their knowledge of the organization, the product, marketing, corporate and social communications, as well as their management skills.  Managing conflicting interests and personalities in a timely and effective manner in a high stress environment isn't easy.  

    Set a clear leader from each breakout team and try to compartmentalize communications as appropriate during breakout sessions.  Try to minimize distracting background noise by drawing the appropriate lines in your Roles and Responsabilities communications, minimizing interdepartmental disagreements.  

    Regroup as regularly as appropriate.  Set your regroup times in advance, but feel free to add, reschedule or cancel meetings as needed.  
  5. Educating Key Stakeholders
    In all likelihood, there are at least a couple of key stakeholders with serious misconceptions about social media overall, as well as social marketing as a discipline.  Education in advance is key.  

    However, if you haven't had the opportunity to educate all of them, consider creating simple documents that outline the rationalle and best practices of social communications in a crises.  This will help inform your teams as well as your management.

    If you could never get the attention of Key Stakeholders in advance of the crises, consider reaching out following a crises.  You may find that they are more amenable to learning once they have become engaged.
  6. Learning for Yourself
    Make learning your personal responsability.  In an ideal world everyone would want to do a post-mortem and learn from the past.  However, in reality you may only get a couple of people engaged.  Be sure that you capture the lessons learned and circulate this document along with supporting recommendations (from the participating review team).  Not only will this help everyone involved, but you will become the go-to thought leader the next time this comes around.  


That was heavy.  Now that you've read or skimmed this far, enjoy the video below!