This panel was the second of three panels with the first on Online Content. One of the things that I thought worked better this time than the first time was that the guests interacted with each other outside of answering questions and jumping off one each other’s comments. The panel felt like more of a conversation between friends and colleagues than a Q&A; which allowed for a less formal atmosphere and yielded some interesting stories.
My favourite topic of conversation for the evening came towards the end of the night when Jenn asked them about crisis management. Jenn suggested they share an example of an “ultimate crisis” or how they were able to avoid one.
Yarus had an interesting perspective on crisis management, he works with “communities of influencers,” and the crises he handles are different than those of Johnston at JetBlue but one of the things I took away from his discussion on crisis management was the way he described the way he likes to handle them:
“We’re all people on this side of the screen and on that side of the screen, and I really try to influence that way within my team.”
The example of a “crisis” Yarus gave was when students began tweeting about a brand and the response was that the client didn’t want them and didn’t approved of them. Yarus then goes into a discussion on how easy it was for him to get in contact with the posters by texting them, explaining the situation and the tweets disappearing:
“We’re all people. I think we need to break down the barrier of ‘you need to send a formal email’ or send a formal letter, like, no, text them. That’s how I would want to be contacted…treat people as they are and I think you’ll get real results.”
Johnston had a much different take on crisis management and how social media is roped into an emergency response plan because it’s usually the “first indicator of an event or accident.” He hared a story of how he spent one Tuesday afternoon when he discovered a tweet from a customer describing how one of the flight attendants cursed out the whole plane and quit on the spot. He described that the crisis was handled by saying, roughly, “look, we know you’re interested, here’s what we can and can not tell you and here’s why we can’t tell you.” Like Yarus’ response to a crisis, I thought this was handled well – this acknowledges a problem, addresses it and shares as much information as possible so it doesn’t keep curious people in the dark.
Cicero had another interesting story to tell of how he was working with a company that had Subway as a client when they announced that Michael Vick had won Sportsman of the Year, shortly after leaving jail. Cicero describes receiving a “flood of negative comments all over the Facebook page, nonstop” and says the comments continued for month or two after the event. Cicero describes that the way the management team handled the crisis was to delete any posts that violated the rules and told his team not to respond to anything, that the PR team would handle everything.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve heard of any crises taking place in a company that you think was handled well or could have been handled better.