Danger You Never Saw Coming

train-tracksBy Lisa Faulkner-Dunne, Lisa Faulkner-Dunne & Associates Public Relations

Social media is a great way to engage your customers and clients, and to share product information and announcements with people who already like you. But, if you’re responsible for handling social media for a client, you know that heartsick feeling when you realize someone you can’t control, with the most tertiary connection to your client or the brand you represent, is about to ruin your weekend. Usually, that’s not even their intent. The offending party makes a bad choice, engages in a poorly thought out prank, participates in a racist or sexist rant that they arrogantly assumed was private. Suddenly, if that person has any connection to your client, you’re dragged you into a train wreck you never saw coming.

After the OU fraternity videos surfaced, the Catholic high school one boy attended was forced to make statements about the school’s code of conduct, and its reaction to the event. No one at the school was part of the video, and representatives were obviously appalled by their former student’s behavior, but they were on the hot seat, shown on national news as if they were a little bit responsible.

How do you avoid getting embroiled in hot topic issues, so repugnant they go viral? Luck is the only way. But, you can work smart to mitigate the damage, much like the high school did.

  1. React – They came forward with a statement and an interview, indicating how disappointed they were to see a former student speak this way.
  1. Validate – They talked about the school’s teachings and discussed diversity among the student body.
  1. Finish– They faded away after. They didn’t clamor for more spotlight. Their part was over, and they wisely didn’t try to make it about them.

Of all the scenarios discussed at this school, I doubt they had played through this one—but, they responded appropriately.   A crisis doesn’t usually come from the direction you’re looking.




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