A communications crisis can happen at any time in the life of a company. The most important thing is then the ability of the company to react quickly. It is therefore necessary to prepare a plan in advance, called a crisis recovery plan. The plan should absolutely include the use of influential bloggers. We explain why and how.

A PR campaign is no longer sufficient

Press relations have long been the main, if not the only, response in times of crisis. A PR campaign is certainly still essential – you can’t remain silent – but it’s no longer sufficient. There is no guarantee that the journalists will publish your answer, and if they do, in what way? And anyway, it’s too risky to rely on just one channel to get out of a crisis potentially affecting the integrity of your brand and even the survival of your business.

Your PR officer must be fully mobilized to explain the official line and answer questions from journalists. But he alone can’t do everything. (Photo credit: Bruce Mars, Pexels)

Yes, publishing press releases is essential, as journalists need to know the official position of your company in a storm, to include it in their coverage. Moreover, the first press release must include an official statement from the CEO or President: Let’s be under no illusion: the response is still corporate and its impact on the general public is limited. According to the Edelman Barometer of Confidence, only 49% of Internet users surveyed trust CEOs. People are skeptical about what a company boss says, and this skepticism increases even more if the company is caught in a controversy.

Restore trust with influencers

Much more than corporate communications, an external opinion will immediately inject credibility into your version of the events. Partnering with a credible influencer, with a large audience and a solid reputation in the industry concerned, will give credit to your word and make that of your detractors less audible.

The key is to choose visible influencers, typically bloggers who have a real relationship with their readers. Take care however the influencer should not just echo your communications, but rather report on the case in a personalized way, and interact on the subject with his audience. Specifically, it means responding to comments and possibly following up on the subject in a second post, to show that it wasn’t just publicity but a real position.

At the heart of the battle, influencers are your white knights ready to charge to the battle front to defend you and counterattack. (Photo credit: Rene Asmussen, Pexels)

Don’t impose a predefined discourse on the influencer, rather let them speak freely about the ongoing controversy. Their position can be measured, as long as it remains positive overall. An overly systematic defense could be considered dubious by their audience, and this can be counterproductive. Remember: in times of crisis, you’re walking on eggshells!

An information campaign against fake news

A communications crisis is often the result of false information spread about your brand. At a minimum, if a problematic situation does exist, it can be artificially worsened by approximations or exaggerations. The grapevine effect on social networking doesn’t help things. Your competitors also have an interest in seeing you sink into a quagmire of rumors. How then can you restore the truth?

Reactivity is the key here. You need to stop the fake news as quickly as possible by imposing your version of the facts. Typically, ordering an article from a blogger can be done quickly, especially on a dedicated platform like getfluence.com, which lists more than 2000 influential publishers.

During a communications crisis, you must be more than ever master of time. This means anticipation and above all reactivity. (Photo credit: Mike, Pexels)

Indeed, a simple “mishap” can become a communications crisis if it’s not immediately managed by the brand concerned. According to the American Marketing Association, 90% of crises could be avoided if a plan had been prepared in advance. For the remaining 10%, it’s your responsiveness that will make the difference.

Take control over SEO and preserve your image

In a crisis, your brand is at the centre of much more conversations, articles and posts on social networks. It’s a signal that doesn’t escape the search engines which tend to favor recent content. Suffice to say that 24 hours after the onset of a crisis, articles on the subject may end up at the top of the search results, and even before your own domain.

Google has a category “on the front page” which makes the latest news on the subject appear as a priority , whether positive or negative. Here, Tesla is paying the price.

This is especially true if mainstream media cover the subject: their article will necessarily appear higher than any press release or blog post. The reason is simple: their domain authority is usually very high, so any article emanating from them is inevitably found on the front page.

It’s therefore an immediate problem, but also a long term one. You don’t want an old crisis to resurface to tarnish your image forever. There’s no right to forget for companies! The more positive content on your business you put on the front page, the more the older and sometimes negative content will be relegated to the depths of Google.

An influential blog has in theory a strong domain authority. A sponsored article allows you to place content that is favorable to your brand on the first page of the results (the only one that counts).

Make the message viral on different platforms

The best form of defense is attack! If a smear campaign is started, it’s up to you to fight it on your own turf. Therefore, you must impose your message. It must be the same among your corporate communications, on social networks, your statements to the press and, for even more impact, in the content of influencers.

Photo credit: George Pagan, Unsplash

For example, you can create a special hashtag, which you’ll use in all your communications during a crisis especially on social networks, and which your advocates (your community for example) can reuse. You can then very well invite an influencer to use it as part of their official support. A hashtag can combine your efforts and those of your support. And it allows journalists and other bloggers to easily access information and follow the crisis in real time, being sure not to miss a statement or official reaction.

Communications in a crisis requires a commitment from your team on several fronts. You limit the negative impact on your image, your sales or your stock market price. In this mix, don’t forget influencer marketing, you’ll have got the message.