Sadly, a new crisis or tragedy seems to appear on the news almost monthly. These heartbreaking stories can turn controversial in a heartbeat and as a company, you may often feel like there’s something you need to do or say. These situations require increased sensitivity, and it’s important to know what to do as a company.

What exactly defines a tragedy or crisis? A good way to recognize one is if all the major news outlets have interrupted their broadcasts or social media coverage to address it.

In this post we’ll be discussing some important ways that your business can handle national crises and hot button issues so that you can be sure your company isn’t left looking tone deaf, insensitive or worse.

First and foremost, you must establish a plan for how you will address these crises, follow through with that plan, and be ready to tweak it for future events.

Like a company crisis management plan, it is good to establish what you are going to say or do online and on social media in a time of crisis or tragedy. Here are a few thoughts for how to best handle this:

Step 1-Make Your Plan

In most instances, it is actually better to stay silent for the day. Reschedule your planned articles, push that new blog post to the next day, or move that new product release for later on in the week.

When a company just goes along with business as usual on social media, it can be perceived as highly insensitive during a time of a tragedy. It is hard to resist even the common “thoughts and prayers” tweet or post, but in reality, survivors or those affected most likely don’t need your company’s comfort. Of course, if the tragedy has affected your company very closely or occurred in your city or state, a comforting post is appropriate. Otherwise, be sure that you don’t just continue on with business as usual online.

Step 2-Follow Through With Your Plan

Don’t let your company contribute to the “marketers ruin everything” stereotype. Take the opportunity to be sensitive and not tone deaf in the wake of tragic events. Staying quiet for 24 hours during a tragedy has never hurt a company. If you can’t find a tactful or helpful way to show your support, don’t say anything at all. And by all means, do NOT commercialize the death or crisis for your brand’s benefit.

After the Las Vegas shooting, a popular singer posted a tweet that her tickets were on sale that day, before she even addressed the tragedy that had occurred just hours before. She instantly received angry tweets of people claiming that she was being very insensitive. Aligning your social media channels with your values is important in establishing your brand’s identity, and when people see how your brand acts or doesn’t act in a situation, they will remember and adjust their attitudes towards the brand accordingly. This is why it is a necessity to follow through with your plan.

Step 3-Adjust Your Plan for Future Events

We all hope there will never be a future tragedy that we have to address, but it’s also important to remember it is okay to adjust your strategy, especially when hot button issues arise. Be ready to defend your brand when you align with your values or even change your strategy to be more sensitive in the wake of these crises. Marketers and brands are not perfect, but it can definitely do harm if these plans are not well thought out.

Make a plan, follow through, and be ready to change anything as time goes on. A thoughts and prayer post may have been deemed necessary a few years ago, but things change. Someone might be quick to say his or her opinion on a hot button issue, but keep in mind this is representing your brand and company.

Following these simple steps will help you handle these crises in a much more confident way, as well as being sensitive to your customers and followers.

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