Although President Trump has been more than a little busy since he assumed office, he remains an avid Twitter fan; sometimes tweeting multiple times a day, and late into the night.
President Trump isn’t the first Commander in Chief who’s come up with a new way to reach out directly to the public in a bid to forge a more intimate, authentic relationship with them.
History has seen Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats, John F. Kennedy’s smart tapping into the television boom, and Barack Obama’s arguably first truly robust, multi-channel social media campaign that led to his election in 2008. And now, America has its first “Commander-in-Tweet.”
Given the increasing reach and potential impact of the President’s Twitter activity, companies should be prepared to suddenly find themselves under his digital spotlight. Three steps will help.
Know how you’ll respond to sensitive situations: All comms teams should be monitoring what is said about their firm in public and responding in a timely manner, but that’s not easy. Teams should create and maintain (i.e., update as needed) a crisis management plan. CEB members can use this example to help improve their own plans.
Teams should also clarify which parts of the firm (Legal, senior executives, and so on) should take responsibility for what in a crisis. This crisis mapping technique can help.
Improve your social media skills: To tame the social media beast, you’ve got to know it inside and out. Learn how to monitor your company’s social media presence and help account owners measure the impact of their efforts.
Understand how stakeholders use social media: For example, one firm in CEB’s network of communicators developed a monitoring system that helps them understand how the different sources consumed by stakeholders influence their opinion formation, and translate this data into an effective communications strategy.
Develop a response strategy: You need to be able to assess when to engage in online debates and when to step back and watch. At some point, you might have to respond smartly to a negative external post. Comms teams should understand how they want to pitch the response and how they should defend the firm, and also have a clear decision-making process in place so that the response is approved quickly for publication.
Empower employees to protect the firm: In an environment where it’s impossible for Communications to control the myriad sources of information about the company, it’s important that the comms team recruits allies to help identify emerging reputation concerns and respond quickly.
For example, comms teams can equip employees to understand and articulate the company’s perspective on key issues, or they can enlist managers to respond and appropriately escalate any concerns they have about how the company is being portrayed in public. For instance, one large manufacturer in CEB’s networks uses focused training to help line managers understand what could trigger a crisis. They also give managers tools to help them assess and (as needed) escalate risks in their day-to-day work.