Digital Engagement Strategies During a Crisis

Prioritizing effective communication in your organization is essential at all times, but it is even more critical in times of crisis. Clear, consistent communication can mitigate the impact of a crisis and maintain – or even strengthen – trust among your key stakeholder groups. Having a crisis communications plan in place is key to ensuring your organization is prepared to navigate disruptive events in a timely manner. 

Today's crises are more complex and dynamic than ever. Rapidly evolving digital and social media channels have created new challenges for companies to manage. Online channels have also changed the reach of a crisis and the speed at which it moves. Companies must adapt their approach and build resilience before a crisis to effectively manage their reputation. While the traditional elements of a crisis communications plan remain important, a strong digital engagement strategy has become a non-negotiable. 

Why Digital Engagement Strategies Matter 

Regardless of whether your organization relies on technology for its business, the reality is we are operating in a connected world. People are increasingly likely to turn to online channels for news and information. And in a crisis, digital and social media platforms accelerate the spread of information – and misinformation. Integrating digital into your communications and crisis planning is vital in this type of fast-paced environment, where people’s expectations of companies and brands are also evolving. 

Effective communication through online channels requires thoughtful planning and consistent engagement. It’s important to start by assessing how your organization is currently engaging audiences on a regular basis, understanding where your audiences – both internal and external – are most active, and adjusting where necessary. In some instances, this could mean creating new channels, but in most cases, it’s a matter of determining whether you’re effectively using the channels you have in place.  

Not only is it important to have the infrastructure in place to respond before a crisis hits, but it is also vital to have an established voice and credibility as a trusted resource. While your organization may increase the volume of communications when responding to a crisis, you most likely don’t want to create brand new channels in the middle of an active crisis. By the time you’re dealing with a crisis, it may be too late or feel disingenuous to develop an online presence strictly for the purpose of pushing out your messaging – and it has the potential to backfire.

digital Engagement Strategies During a Crisis

Always On: The Importance of Listening 

Establishing a digital media intelligence system is an important component of any digital strategy. “Having a monitoring and rapid response system in place allows you to gather important information to incorporate into your crisis communications strategy,” says Megan Mitchell, Senior Communications Consultant at IRI Consultants. “Knowing what conversations are happening and where means you’re better positioned to engage, if necessary, before an online conversation becomes a crisis.” 

Social listening can give your organization a heads up on the potential for a disruption, like organizing activity or public issues that could impact your business. It also allows you to look at your peers or competitors – how they’re engaging and what’s being said about them – and implement changes to your digital engagement strategy that will boost your online presence. 

ready to respond in a crisis webinar

Building a Customized Digital Engagement Strategy

While a crisis can sound like the worst thing you’ll have to confront, it can also be an opportunity to build awareness and advance your organization’s reputation. This is where IRI Consultants can provide value – our expert team can help ensure your organization is well prepared to handle a crisis and come out on the other side with your reputation intact. If you’re interested in learning more about what effective digital engagement strategies look like for your organization, you can contact our team of experts.

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