ConEd and JetBlue Social Media Crisis Communications Strategy PRSANY Panel October 2012
Does your company or organization have a crisis communications plan? Unfortunately few companies are prepared for a crisis when all it takes is one negative tweet or Facebook post creating havoc to your company’s reputation. At the October 23 Public Relations Society New York Chapter panel attendees learned how Con Edison and JetBlue Airways not only prepare for a social media crisis but also leverage social media to diffuse and deflect potential crisis situations.
Michael S. Clendenin stated that for Con Edison social media is another tool to reach customers and shareholders informing them of events and updates.With social media we can stop and clear up rumors quickly rather than in the past where you may have had a reporter reporting the story and your communications rep had to follow up to make sure the story was clear and accurate, said Clendenin. He adds, with more communication channels we now have a rapid response system in place. All social media monitoring is done twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week using Radian6 for the communications team to gauge online chatter. After Hurricane Irene hit in August 2011 twelve videos were made showing all the effort Con Edison was doing to recover and get customers back up with power.
Michael also shared stats and trends from May 2012 that included:
– May 4 had 198 mentions due to manhole cover theft
– May 29 had 214 mentions due to Staten Island outage
Michael also advised that when you are dealing with customers and complaints you will find that you may be unable to
respond to everything but get your customer operations people in contact offline with the individual making the complaints to resolve as quickly as possible.
Jenny Dervin repeated some of the same stories that I covered at a November 2011 IABC panel such as the February 2007 ice storm at JFK Airport in New York that caused JetBlue massive delays but gave birth to the first social media response where CEO David Neeleman had intended to deliver a video message to JetBlue employees but also recorded an apology for JetBlue customers. Jenny spoke on how the JetBlue social media policy for employees is less than six hundred words and social media is about listening and serving as an early warning system. JetBlue communications group has a thirty minute deadline to get a first statement out to the public on any major Jet Blue issue. A real time recovery team monitors Twitter and Facebook for any JetBlue mentions to report.
If a JetBlue customer tweets that he/she has arrived early at a JetBlue gate and there is no JetBlue employees there or if a passenger is running late, a supervisor will be notified and then go to get that person and place him/her ahead in line so they will be able to make the flight. How do you deal with a blogger that has a lot of readers/followers and may try to use that influence against your company? Dervin sees this happen from time to time when a mom and child may be given separate seats and the mom turns out to be an influential mommy blogger that threatens to go on Twitter to destroy your company. JetBlue policy is that if a person tries to leverage and gets something bigger they will actually get less, so please do not take advantage of it!
You can follow Jenny Dervin on Twitter @SkyWriter012
Providing a legal perspective on all this was Gary Kibel from Davis & Gilbert. Gary stated that organizations have three
different perspectives when dealing with social media: the company employees, the company itself, and what the public says about the company. The first step is to make sure your company has a written social media policy for employees before you have a rogue employee posting or writing about something that may portray your company in a negative light.
Gary also provided Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines for endorsements and testimonials in advertising which are:
– All information must be honest and not deceptive
– Bloggers must disclose payments or free products
– Celebrities must disclose any payments
The disclosure would be as follows, “Company X gave me this” or “I work for Company X”.
You can follow Gary Kibel on Twitter @GaryKibel_law.
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