How to Prepare for a Social Media Crisis

Posted by on May 1, 2019 in Blog | 1 comment

How to Prepare for a Social Media Crisis

Reputation, like businesses, can take a life-time to build and then just a moment to lose.


Which is why companies need to prepare and protect their reputation, especially on social media.


In this guest blog, Stuart Baird, the Director of Bakerbaird Communications guides us through the vital rules to remember when facing a crisis on social media and why reputation protection is sacred.

Crises are still the domain of ‘big’ media – the global broadcasters, the national newspapers – but they are now joined at the hip with social media. What can start as a ‘twitter backlash’ can become front page news very quickly.




Companies, corporations and public sector bodies need to have robust crisis handling strategies if they want to protect their reputation and bottom-line.

I’ve been dealing with crises for the last 20 years, working in Government, the NHS and the private sector. These have ranged from malarial outbreaks, the floods and fuel crises in the early 2000’s, the fire strike, the response to the tube bombs and the financial crash caused by the collapse of Northern Rock.

For the last 15 years I have trained company directors, CEOs, medics and UK diplomats on crisis media handling across the globe. In my 12 years working for Whitehall I prepped and briefed countless minsters and Secretaries of State, in good times and bad.

These days, training includes preparing to face the world’s TV cameras but also has to include handling social media – and how to prepare for the tsunami of posts, engagements and demands it will make.



Corporate crises are nothing new. Gerald Ratner managed to kill his family firm in 1991 by making an ‘off the cuff’ comment that the jewellery they sold was ‘crap’. A firm built since 1949 saw £500m off its shares followed by rebrands then closure.

Since then however, the average lifespan of a company has dropped from the 60 year lifespan of the 1950s to under 20 years (Credit Suisse), so where does that leave smaller enterprises exposed to crises?

Experimenting or ‘winging it’ during the crisis itself is too late.

Trying to keep heads below the parapet in the hope it will blow over is similarly futile.

Here are the first five rules to remember:

PREPARE – This means assessing risks, identifying who’s going to take decisions in a social media crisis, training your team and understanding the social media platforms’ reputation management tools. Plus, make sure you plan and exercise.

MONITOR – Continually monitor effects of social media on your community/customers and address the negative impact social media can have, while recognising the positive role social media can play.

CALM – Remain calm and controlled, keeping your eye on senior stakeholders/shareholders, customers & metrics (via sales/social traffic).

ANSWER – Treat fears seriously – answer questions people want to ask.

DEMONSTRATE – Create shareable posts and images to reassure, give context, tell people where they can get help or an answer. Demonstrate action and progress.

Some business leaders still say they don’t want to be on social media because they fear criticism. What they often don’t realise is that their potential customers are already criticising them on social media – it’s just that they’re not aware they are doing so.

Being on social media and having a robust social media reputation management plan is much better than not being on social media at all.


Stuart Baird is an award-winning communicator, having delivered national campaigns such as Think! and Change4Life. He has worked in the Strategic Communications Unit at 10 Downing Street and led communications, marketing and engagement within the NHS. He has been a specialist trainer and coach to Ministers, diplomats and NHS leadership teams for more than 10 years with work in Africa, South-East Asia, the Middle East and the USA.




If you want to discuss how to protect your organisation from reputation management issues then call Stuart on 0779 9678009.

If you’d like to find out more on how to use social media to achieve your business objectives then call Status Social on 01332 776910 or 0115 824 8242.


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One Comment

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  1. Mark Jones

    Great article Stuart. Well done for completing London Marathon 2019.

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