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Survey: Most businesses unprepared for digital crises

July 8, 2011

Although 81 percent of business leaders believe that new media plays an increasingly important role in driving reputation during a crisis, only a third of them have a digital crisis communications plan in place.

According to the 2011 Crisis Preparedness Study released by Burson-Marsteller and market research and consulting firm Penn Schoen Berland, 79 percent of business leaders said they expect to face a crisis within the next 12 months. However, despite recognizing the importance of digital media, only half of these leaders understand who their online stakeholders are and how to engage with them.

“We are now all in the business of crisis management,” Burson-Marsteller chief global digital strategist Dallas Lawrence said in an article on Forbes. “It is not a matter of whether we will stumble online but of when we will each have our moment.”

So why aren’t more companies using digital media for reputation management and crisis communications? The survey showed that the main hurdles are an institutional lack of experience and knowledge of how to engage online in real time. Lawrence offered the following tips for companies looking to close the gap:

  1. Develop a social media crisis plan.
  2. Regularly test your crisis plan.
  3. Develop and publish an employee social media policy.
  4. Provide employee social media training.
  5. Monitor your own social media reputation.

Jason Woodward


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