How to Handle Your Next PR Crisis with Social Listening
Carol Feigenbaum |
 12/12/19 |
5 min read

How to Handle Your Next PR Crisis with Social ListeningYour brand’s next PR crisis is inevitable – are you ready? Here’s how to take a proactive approach with social listening, and what to do when disaster strikes.

Taking Your Baseline Temperature

‘An ounce of prevention’ can only happen when you have a solid starting point to compare against. Otherwise, you’ll be distracted by every negative mention and quickly become overwhelmed. Or you’ll ignore them entirely, and miss something big.

Understanding your baseline is not hard to do when you have next generation AI-powered social analytics on your side.

Typical Baseline Measures

With it, you can get a sense of typical measures for:

  • How often is your brand typically mentioned online during a given day/week or month? And beyond that – what percentage of these mentions are positive, negative and neutral? When mentions spike, your adrenaline should too – but don’t give yourself little heart attacks over nothing. Your brand may experience fluctuations here as a matter of course – but you need to know that for sure.
  • What sort of content do folks typically share about your brand – videos, images? If you have few visuals regularly and there’s suddenly a surge, that’s something to investigate.
  • Net Sentiment. This score, from -100 to 100, is a measure of brand love. If you’re typically running at an 80 and it suddenly dives to -19, there’s trouble headed your way! But maybe -19 is just where your brand typically registers online. In that case, you have things to worry about, for sure, but aren’t in the midst of a fast-moving crisis.
  • Potential Impressions. A sudden surge here could mean great things, or be cause for alarm. An influencer may be posting about you and it could clue you in to a potentially powerful brand ambassador, or a powerful foe. Following the sentiment will show you which.

baseline metrics to be aware of ahead of a crisis

Popping online and initially tracking this intel – any of it, will be eye opening. And a little nerve wracking. But it’s so worth it in the long run.

And this is why consistent monitoring is so important. How else will you spot what’s brewing before it bubbles over if you don’t understand what your “normal” is? You won’t.

Consistent Monitoring to Know What’s Brewing

Although you likely have alerts set up to warn you when an inordinate amount of brand mentions occur or when sentiment suddenly spikes or takes a dramatic nosedive, (and if you don’t, you need to!) – the importance of being aware of what’s happening as it’s happening cannot be overstated. It makes little sense not to.

That means seeing trending terms and other conversations as they come up each day:

trending Peloton conversations

And you can view it all in dashboards that are easily reported out to clients or shared with internal stakeholders. Brands can generate ad-hoc reports, create customized dashboards or use one of 36+ pre-defined dashboard templates by industry or use case.

And they can be delivered automatically as PDF files at user-defined frequencies. Share analytics daily, weekly, and monthly to provide up-to-the-minute visibility into key business metrics:

real-time social analytics dashboards

Though, just because you have dashboards in play – that does not mean you’ll immediately understand why something is happening. That requires analysis.

Understanding the Crisis

When, in spite of everything you’ve done to head it off, crisis strikes – a brand’s response can make or break its bottom line. Take Peloton, for example. The brand’s initial (and only) response to the crisis around its exercise bike commercial was not the best choice.

Peloton expressed ‘disappointment’ that its commercial was ‘misunderstood.’ It was of the ‘sorry if it offended you’ variety, instead of the ‘so sorry this was offensive, we’ve learned from it’ kind.

As a result, its stock has plunged and that dive is predicted to continue. But more than that, analysts appear to be rooting for its failure now:

In his report, Left says Peloton has similarities to GoPro, a company that came in hot with a must-have product but fizzled once competition ramped up. He raised questions about Peloton’s ability to bring successful new products to market in the future. 

[And] he also targeted CEO John Foley. “He has a reputation for ‘loose lips’ and ‘shooting from the hip,’ ” Left wrote, adding the executive has a “hard time with the truth” and his “hubris” is “worse than the commercial.”

Where Crisis Response Goes Wrong

Where did they go wrong? Peloton seems to have been as tone deaf in its response as it was with the advertisement itself.

Peloton tone deaf when responding to PR crisis

They – and any brand facing a crisis – needs to understand some basic things when crisis strikes, including . .

What is being said:

using storyscope to see what is being said during a PR crisis 

When did it start: timeline view for pinpointing when a PR crisis started and why

Who is talking, specifically:

capturing author analysis for PR crisis intel 

Where are they talking:

where are people talking about brand concerns

Hopefully, as you’ve done such an amazing job of monitoring ahead of crisis, you’ll be able to narrow all of this down quickly and head it off before it reaches nuclear level.

And with AI Studio, an advanced AI NetBase offering, you’d be alerted to related themes that could give you an inkling of items potentially on the horizon. Things you’d never think to search for. That’s powerful.

Automated Theme Discovery for Crisis Warnings

AI Studio’s first-to-market (and first of many) offerings, is automated theme discovery. It harnesses the power of machine learning, deep learning and expert systems and focuses it on uncovering semantically related terms that are relevant to your topic search.

AI Studio's automated theme discovery on Peloton

It’s an amazing bit of AI, as it’s been pretrained on billions of documents. The AI has no skin in the game, no confirmation bias to worry about – it’s just pure insight, filtered and fine tuned for analysis. The time it will save brands is stunning

Imagine having an in-depth understanding of something as it starts to happen, and being ready with appropriate messaging that merely requires a bit of tweaking.

Either way – whether you’ve sorted out this brewing crisis thanks to your expert understanding of your baseline metrics, or your consistent social media monitoring efforts, or you were alerted to something unknown via AI Studio – here you are. A crisis is upon you, and you’re ready.

Now you just need a little help from your friends.

Enlisting Influencers & Brand Ambassadors in Crisis Response

You know the who, what and why behind the crisis as it’s been evolving and can craft a relevant, meaningful – and, most importantly, thoughtful, response. You’re not frantic about it though – you’re calm and ready.

And you also know where to share this expertly crafted message, as social analytics has told you where the conversation is happening as well. Hopefully, as part of your ongoing monitoring process, you’ve identified and collaborated with category influencers and/or have struck up a rapport with potential brand ambassadors.

These folks are easy to spot (and even easier to vet in a robust social analytics product) as they’re often participating in popular conversations:

finding influencers and brand ambassadors to shape PR crisis narrative

And they have exceptional engagement with your target audience. Brands can also search for influencers with a particular number of followers/visitors. Here, we searched for those with 10k-100k followers, as we wanted to find some more accessible (and potentially more authentic) influencers:

influencer engagement based on a number of filtered metrics

Activating Influencers

So now it’s time to enlist the help of a few of these supremely credible voices in your community. You’ll want to work with you to get your message out there. This is a particularly important step when the crisis is around something sensitive. Peloton could’ve used a few influential voices in their corner, for sure.

When a brand is trying to get ahead of an issue or frame the narrative, a person is much more relatable than a business. And this is why having brand ambassadors, who can be activated on a moments’ notice, is key.

Not only are they handy for long-term consumer interactions, they’re also fantastic to have on your side when push comes to shove. When you need someone to calm the consumer waters before your brand drowns, turn to influencers.

Finding these folks and consistently monitoring your brand health may sound like too much work, but it isn’t. And we love showing brands how quickly they can sort out everything we’ve detailed above. Reach out for a crisis analysis demo to see for yourself!

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