The last thing a business wants to endure is a crisis. In a world with social media and fast-moving news, a crisis can sink a company. So it is important that companies have a communication strategy for emergencies. They should know exactly what they will do and say to reassure their consumers. A good communication plan can save the company and even bring good press.
According to researchers Surin Chung and Suman Lee, there’s one strategy that works better than the others.
Chung and Lee investigated one particular case of crisis communication. In 2013, a poultry brand named Foster Farms suffered a salmonella outbreak. To combat this crisis, the company used two different strategies: a crisis response strategy and a technical translation strategy.
With a crisis response strategy, a business uses messages to repair its own reputation. With a technical translation strategy, a business uses messages to tell members of the public how to protect themselves. The researchers wanted to know which of these strategies was more effective.
They looked at 20 different messages Foster Farms posted on its Facebook and Twitter pages between Oct. 7 and Nov. 15. They also looked at the 349 audience comments that were attached to these messages. They coded these audience comments into two categories: crisis response strategy and technical translation strategy.
After analyzing these social media messages and comments, the researchers found that the technical translation strategy proved more effective than the crisis response strategy. The technical translation strategy generated more positive public responses. With a crisis response strategy, the opposite happened. It generated more negative public responses.
This study shows that a business should first focus on the needs and worries of the customer. After that, the business can address its reputation. “In contrast, after Foster Farms used a technical translation strategy (i.e., instructing and adjusting information) to fully and easily explain the physical and psychological concerns regarding the crisis, the public showed a favorable response toward Foster Farms’ communication activity.”
To read the full text of this study: http://bit.ly/2yVAIKf
Chung, S., & Lee, S. (2016). “Crisis Communication Strategy on Social Media and the Public’s Cognitive and Affective Responses: A Case of Foster Farms Salmonella Outbreak.” Communication Research Reports, 33(4), 341-348.