Crisis communication

Why CMOs should learn how best to communicate in a crisis

Open data and innovative media platforms present new challenges in crisis management – but also bring new opportunities!

A firm’s first line of defence in times of crisis includes a robust communications strategy, regardless of whether it is a security breach or a natural disaster.

The chief marketing officer (CMO) has tools and channels such as social, mobile and traditional marketing platforms for maintaining good public relations when disaster strikes. But choosing the right platform to target the right audience is crucial, whether to provide reassurance, information or convey that action is being taken to resolve the situation.

As CMO of web-hosting platform WP Engine, Mary Ellen Dugan’s focus is communicating as completely and quickly as possible. Headquartered in Texas, her company’s crisis planning was recently tested when Hurricane Harvey struck.

She says: “Before it made landfall, on our website we listed our business-continuity initiatives and assured customers there would be no disruption in service. We used social platforms to ensure even broader distribution and our support team contacted customers who were in the hurricane’s path to offer support.

Social media channels remain critical tools for communicating with customers in a crisis

The irony is that they can also present threats, as crises can break and spread across these platforms rapidly. Out-of-hours social media tracking and listening software can help to streamline the process of monitoring online conversations across social media, forums, blogs and news outlets simultaneously.

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