Social Media May Hurt Your Business After an Accident
The world of today is very different then it was 20 years ago. Gone are the days of reading your local paper or watching the six-o’clock news to find information on the world. The advent of the cell phone and the internet has allowed us to find out anything we want with the touch of a screen. More specifically, people are going to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to find their news.
Social media has become the home of hot topics and breaking news. For most of us, this makes our lives easier and more convenient. But for an organization who just had a severe accident happen, this could be your worst fear.
With almost every citizen having instant access to a camera and social media platforms, a workplace injury or accident could become a nightmare if the same is unprepared on how to handle it. While press releases and media interviews remain a mainstay in communication, the public seeks more information from websites and social media.
Melissa Agnes, international crisis management speaker based in Toronto, Ont., explains that waiting to prepare the perfect press release or statement may be costly. “The clock starts at minute zero, really, and expectations today are extremely high,” said Melissa. “And it’s difficult. The longer we take to respond effectively to a situation, the more control over the narrative we lose. The more credibility and trust we risk losing with those who matter.”
Businesses big and small need to be prepared for incidents, positive and negative and know what their best course of action is before it happens. One key way to be prepared is to aseemble a group of the organizations leaders to discuss possible incidents that may occur. Suzet McKinney, an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, says “When you are in the midst of that pressure, things come out, and you figure out gaps that you may not have thought about when you were just talking about it, you know, [during] ‘peace time,’ as I like to say”
Another way to stay ahead of an incident is speak to your employees. Danny Smith, a Birmingham, AL-based senior safety consultant for SafeStart, states that while employees should be updated when incidents happen, they are to be reminded that they are to simply consume the information and not to create it.
“Saying up front, ‘Hey, this is what we expect of you. We don’t want you going out and saying things that could end up jeopardizing the company,’” he said. “At the same time, you do that and you also get some people – I guess you would say the natural pessimists in the room – that are [saying], ‘OK, well, what are they trying to hide?’ Well, it’s not necessarily trying to hide something, it’s trying to make sure that the information is correct that’s getting out there. Not some other stuff that shouldn’t be there in the first place.”
Creating an internal social media policy and explaining clearly why can help employees understand why their actions, while with the best intentions, can cause issues. Safety consultant Abby Ferri explains “For safety purposes or for safety reasons, you should not be posting after an incident on social media any site-specific or worker-specific or speculative information.” Smith, suggests that while most employees may understanding, other pessimistic employees may see that as “hiding” information. “At the same time, you do that and you also get some people – I guess you would say the natural pessimists in the room – that are [saying], ‘OK, well, what are they trying to hide?’ Well, it’s not necessarily trying to hide something, it’s trying to make sure that the information is correct that’s getting out there. Not some other stuff that shouldn’t be there in the first place.”
In the end, every member of your organization should have the knowledge of how to deal with workplace incidents and the social media implications. Smith explains that if you don’t train your works how to handle this, then you are setting yourself up to have issues. “In my opinion, if you don’t define it, if you don’t train people, if you don’t tell them what is expected, then once something does happen, you don’t really have the right to be upset with what happens with the message that gets out,” he said. “Because you didn’t do anything to kind of unify the message on the front end and try to get everybody thinking the same way and working in the same direction.”