Use social media to protect your farm’s reputation during disasters
Terrible events can happen on a farm. Livestock defy fences and cause traffic accidents, and dry fields catch fire and threaten nearby homes. Because social media enables instant and broad sharing of negative messages, it pays to be proactive.
“Having a strong crisis plan can manage social media in real time and even turn them into opportunities,” says Peter Kerr, president of KerrComm, a business consulting firm that provides training for media engagement and public relations. “Otherwise, social media could be something that endangers your brand or company’s future.”
Kerr suggests adopting this four-part approach.
1. Develop a risk management plan. Ask yourself: What is the worst-case scenario? Is it feasible to prevent it? Can you lower its probability? Don’t wait until a crisis is upon you, Kerr recommends. Instead, graph out your risks.
2. Monitor online activity in real time. Have filters and scanners in place to alert you when messages are shared about your operation. Tools such as Google Alerts, Social Mention, Topsy and Hootsuite can help you know if your farm is mentioned online. Also set up alerts for variations of your brand name, key staff names or farm slogans.
3. Develop measured responses. When something horrible occurs, your response should be completely transparent or brief—but nothing in the middle, Kerr advises. Use the social media connections you’ve made to back up your story.
4. Sincerely apologize. This step is the most important, Kerr notes. With your apology, express remorse, admit responsibility, make amends and promise it won’t happen again.