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In a number of recent issues of the Disaster Recovery Journal, I have commented on the need for companies to strengthen the “crisis management” element of their business continuity plans. (Crisis management is the role of executives in responding during a crisis or disaster.)

The diagram below depicts my opinion of what a crisis management plan should consist of: namely the executive management plan, the crisis management team plan and the crisis communications plan.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article titled “For Companies, a Tweet in Time Can Avert PR Mess,” the crisis communications plan has been taken to a new level. 

“A growing number of businesses are tracking social-media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to gauge consumer sentiment and avert potential public-relations problems.” 

Ford Motor Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co., among others, are deploying software and assigning employees to monitor Internet postings and blogs. They’re also assigning senior leaders to craft corporate strategies for social media.

Prior to this article I believed companies mainly responded to letters of complaint from customers, articles appearing in newspapers or magazines that criticize a company, or undercover stories that depict disgruntled employees negative opinions of the employer, etc. But this article written by Sarah E. Needleman, gave some excellent examples of where companies were able to minimize potential public relation problems by monitoring and responding to blogs on the social media.

Needleman also pointed out the difficulties in establishing a social media program by quoting Marcus Schmidt, a senior marketing manager for Microsoft Corp.

Schmidt said, “Monitoring a corporate image in cyberspace is a daunting task, even with technological help. Tracking software can identify hundreds of posts daily, and managers must decide which could prove troublesome. … If you start seeing a lot of people re-tweeting it, then you know to pay attention.” 

In summary, my question to you is this. Has your organization started to monitor the social-media as part of your public relations or marketing program?

Ed Devlin, CBCP, has provided business recovery planning consulting services since 1973 when he co-founded Devlin Associates. Since then, Devlin has assisted more than 300 companies in the writing of their business recovery plans and has made more than 800 seminars and presentations worldwide.