Crisis communication in online media

Crisis communication happens on a daily basis, even if we aren’t aware of it. News on the Internet are spreading at lightning speed, and if it’s about bad news, we all know they are spreading faster than the speed of light. It has never been easier to announce an event than today in the digital world. Unfortunately, in today’s world, we have more negative comments and connotations than the positive and motivating ones.

Businesses are facing,  different crisis situations, almost on a daily basis, which, if they are not solved properly, can seriously jeopardize the business. The good reputation takes years to create, but only one crisis situation or even a wrong sentence can endanger it for a long time. I can compare it with a crumpled paper – once it’s wrinkled, it is impossible to bring it back to the original state.

What is crisis communication?

Under the term “crisis communication”, we consider the reputation of a company or individuals, which is compromised due to violations of legal, ethical or financial standards. There may be a variety of court lawsuits due to ecological disasters, mobbing or sexual harassment, health defective products, and financial malversation. And sometimes, literally, a complaint of an angry customer or a user of a service or product.

In those moments of crisis, you should expect increased media interest in your case. Also, users and other inquisitive people could ask questions and demand answers from your employees. If you want to do everything right and minimalize disaster, it is necessary to do the following:

  • Define goals for crisis communication – determine the extent of the crisis, the impact on the company’s business, and choose the right mode of communication and appropriate information to regain damaged trust.
  • To form a crisis team – which should be composed of the executive director, lawyer, PR expert, and human resource manager. In the case of a large company, it is necessary to include the heads of other departments too.
  • To create a crisis communication plan – the plan should include short-term activities (the first 72 hours since the crisis started), medium-term activities during the first week, and long-term activities that will completely calm the situation and respond to any doubts through constant support.
  • Define the resources needed for crisis communication – choose a representative and compile a document containing all relevant information and contacts. The representative communicates with the media, employees and the injured parties.

What to do when a crisis occurs?

In the business world, depending on the size of the company, there is a crisis situation on a daily basis. For example, businesses dealing with retail under a crisis situation may include the slightest complaint of an angry customer, especially if the Company is client-oriented. They have to pay close attention to solve the complaint in customer’s favor and not allow the situation to escalate.

Customers are brand ambassadors, so we don’t want them to spread negative impressions due to poor communication made by a clumsy employee who got up on his wrong leg…

  • First of all, you should be able to recognize a crisis situation
  • It is necessary to evaluate the damage it can cause to the company if you don’t respond adequately
  • It is necessary to admit the mistake! Immediately! Apologize and cover yourself with ashes!
  • Don’t be quiet and wait for the storm to pass! In that case, everyone else will fill the gaps by themselves, guessing and thinking up the worst scenarios on your behalf. If that happens, you are in big trouble.
  • Define sustainable crisis communication messages you can use at the beginning of a crisis, in order to calm down the panic and nervousness. Make sure you don’t turn your head from responsibility and do everything you can to resolve the situation.
  • Keep calm!

Don’t forget about employees

Your employees are your ambassadors – they should first get accurate information about the situation, how the company intends to deal with the crisis, and which is the best way to resolve it.


  1. Because of the trust, which is essential for the continuation of quality business 
  2. If employees have an insight into everything that is going on, they will be able to calm the situation and help transfer relevant information to users and other stakeholders
  3. They will support the company’s goals and will accept some unpopular measures if they occur 

How to manage a crisis in social media?

We’ve already established that bad news can spread rapidly and that in digital space nothing can be hidden. Unless you have a new website and you didn’t do a good job with SEO…

Social media can also be useful if you play smart and plan everything right. If you allow negative advertisements to overflow the internet, you are in a serious problem. The outcome could be a disrupted business process and you can face a huge financial loss.

In order to turn social media to your advantage, your crisis plan needs the following:

  • Honest, open and transparent communication with the media. Don’t be quiet or hide the fact that the crisis exists. Accept the mistake, take responsibility and provide distinct information about when and how you plan to resolve the incident.
  • Respond NOW – don’t wait for media to start to fill in the gaps and make their own versions of the situation in the absence of your official response.
  • Tell the truth. If you lie or cover up something, it will leak somewhere eventually.
  • Use all available platforms to spread sustainable messages and useful news (social media, blogs, search engines, RSS channels, etc.)
  • The more positive postings and information you publish online, there is a bigger chance they are going to outweigh those negative comments.

Remember, the company is the one that should become the source of information about their own crisis situation!