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PR crisis management: What to do when a tweet seems to tank your stock values

Posted on 02-28-2018 by Alyssa Vorhees

 Could a negative tweet from a celebrity send a social media company values plummeting? How about rampant complaints aimed at a fast food company? Based on events last week, the answer depends a lot on the PR crisis response. Consider two events from last week: Kylie Jenner’s tweet bemoaning Snapchat’s redesign and KFC’s chicken shortage in the UK.

Staying alert to social media influencers

After Kylie Jenner—who has 25 million followers—tweeted that she no longer opens Snapchat, Wallstreet got nervous, resulting in a $1.3 billion drop in market value. Can the onus be placed squarely on the reality TV star’s words? Probably not, although it certainly solidified investor concerns in the wake of widespread user dissatisfaction over the redesign of the app. Jenner isn’t alone in her unhappiness with the app. Chrissy Teigen had voiced a similar concern a week earlier, tweeting, “How many people have to hate an update for it to be reconsidered?” And CNN recently reported that “More than one million people have signed an online petition calling for Snapchat to remove the update, saying it's more difficult to use. The company has also been bombarded with negative app reviews, prompting one analyst at Citi to downgrade the stock.” Despite a better-than-expected earnings report, the backlash has investors worried that user engagement will decline. A recent statement by Snapchat CEO

Evan Spiegel probably hasn’t calmed those fears. CNN said that at tech conference a few weeks ago, Spiegel noted that “One of the complaints we got is, ‘Wow, I used to feel this celebrity was my friend and now I don't feel like they're my friend anymore.” He continued, “Exactly. They're not your friend,” but the statement shows little understanding about what users liked about the previous version of the app. Thus far, the company’s PR crisis response has been a lackluster “We hear you” which has failed to quiet the murmurs of dissent.

Turning a supply chain snafu into a PR win

Fried chicken fast food chain KFC recently faced public backlash of a different sort. Changes in the company’s supply chain led to a big problem: no chicken for its UK locations. As you might expect, social media erupted with complaints, jokes and memes about a chicken restaurant running out of chicken—which left the company feeling ‘peckish’ to say the least. But PR crisis management flew into action, and the full-page mea culpa ad taken out in newspapers across the UK—and shared liberally across social media—certainly switched the focus of the conversations to a more positive note. The lesson: Tackling PR problems with humor and honesty helps.

Four ‘A’s of PR Crisis Management

How can companies successfully navigate reputational ups and downs? Here are four ‘A’s that PR crisis response should encompass.

  1. Acknowledge the problem sooner, rather than later.  Social media never stops; in a crisis, the relentless nature of social media only seems to accelerate. You need to be fast on your feet when a crisis appears. Better still, use media monitoring and analytics to spot crisis warning signs sooner—so you can operate from a proactive, rather than reactive, position.
  2. Apologize without casting blame on others. Consumers—and shareholders—don’t care ‘who’ caused a problem, they care about ‘how’ it is being handled. Even if the problem arose due to failings of another party in its supply chain, KFC owned the problem in their response.
  3. Act and be transparent about your intentions. Once you’ve acknowledged the problem and apologized for the fall-out, be clear about the steps you’re taking to address it. Remember the 1982 Tylenol crisis? It’s now a case study on crisis communications because Johnson & Johnson took rapid action—pulling product from the shelves, setting up a hotline for concerned consumers—that enabled the company to overcome the crisis and reestablish its market share despite the severity of the issue.
  4. Analyze the effectiveness of your response. This is another area where media monitoring and analytics play an important role in helping you understand what worked—or what didn’t—so that you can optimize future PR crisis responses accordingly.

The nature of today’s always-on media landscape means that PR professionals need to stay on their toes—and have access real-time media intelligence—in order to stay alert to the next tweet or breaking news story that could signal a PR crisis. Do you have what it takes?

 3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Check out other posts on using media intelligence to help with PR crisis management.
  2. Make sure you connect with the right social media influencers for your brand. Get the eBook.
  3. Share this article with your friends and colleagues on LinkedIn to continue the conversation.

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