I often say that rumors, since based on untruths, do not qualify as a full-on crisis. However, what if the rumors are beginning to go viral and becoming so overpowering that nobody is listening to the facts you’re trying to release to prove their falsehood?
Not only is this a stressful situation, but in this case, if you don’t get your side of the story heard fast and clearly, you may just be headed towards a crisis after all!
So how do you go about making your side of the story heard when reporters, bloggers and the public are more interested in the juicy rumor?
Speak loudly – demand to be heard
If you find yourself faced in a situation such as this, consider the following 6 techniques and strategies to get your side of the story heard – and heard quickly.
Dominate the search engines
When people go searching for information on the topic at hand, you want them to find YOUR content first. In a best case scenario, your content would dominate the entire first page of the search engine results. But in order to achieve this, you must:
- Publish informative content
- Use targeted keywords (the terms people are searching for and talking about) within your content and titles
- Repurpose your content:
- Write blog posts
- Publish a white paper
- Add an informative FAQ to your blog or website
- Publish videos to YouTube
- Create infographics (infographics have a tendency to go viral, so this is a great one to consider!)
Prove your credibility
Back your content up with stats, facts, images, video footage, testimonials – anything and everything that will help position you as a credible source, leaving no holes for others to poke into or use against you.
Monitor the discussions and personally answer people’s questions
Use monitoring tools such as Google Alerts and Twilert to monitor for specific keywords that people are talking about. When you detect conversations, discussions or questions that could use some clarification, kindly reply. Be informative, understanding and helpful. Not only will this help you counter the rumors, but you may just make some valuable new relationships along the way!
Look to your advocates and loyal customers for support
This is another great example of where the real, valuable relationships you create with your customers and fans provide you with a strategic advantage. If you’ve done your job right, you have some devoted customers and fans out there who will want to help you correct any untruths circulating about your company or organization. Ask and you shall receive!
Call in a crisis manager
If things get really bad, it may be time to call in professional help. When searching for the right crisis manager in a situation such as this, make sure that they have experience with:
- Social media crisis management
- Search engine optimization
Know when to walk away
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is publish informative content, optimize it for high rankings and find-ability, answer questions and then know when enough is enough. I’m not saying to close yourself off – continue monitoring, answering questions and informing the right people – but don’t waste your time on those narrow-minded individuals who only aim to hurt. You’ll waste a whole lot of time and energy while accomplishing very little. Remember that the right people will have heard you, and they’re the ones worth your time and energy.
Prevention is still always your best strategy
The longer you wait in a crisis, the more you lose control and the more damage the crisis can potentially have on your brand. The same goes with rumors. If you’re monitoring the online discussions that take place around your brand or organization, you’ll catch the rumor forming within it’s early stages, allowing you to extinguish the flames before they go viral and turn into a full-on crisis.
A social media crisis management plan is essential – and monitoring and prevention should always be at the root of that plan.
Have you ever been a victim of a rumor-gone-viral situation, and if so, what are the lessons you learned from the situation that can help others like you? I invite you to share your experiences with me below.