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Crisis Management: Trump’s Tweets Have Exposed the Technology Blindspot in Crisis Planning

Chris BrittonBy Chris Britton, COO, RockDove Solutions

We are now pretty clear about the impact that a 140-character bombshell from the President of the United States has on a company’s reputation and stock price and the stability of an entire industry—just ask the automotive companies, or Nordstrom, Amazon, Lockheed Martin or anyone that was named in a tweet since this piece was written.

The point is that it’s technology that allows the President to talk directly to his 26.2 million Twitter followers, which is then amplified by retweets, shares and the news media.

This is not a phenomenon created by good or bad media coverage—reporters are trailing behind the story trying to make sense of it.

It is the latest chapter in an unfolding story about how technology is enabling higher levels of risk to organizations.

It is also what allows NGOs, pressure groups and the merely disgruntled to identify each other and organize online.

And technology offers them the platforms to then attack the target of their ire.

The recent fevered political climate has only underlined how technology levels the playing field for groups of people who would wish to disrupt large, well-resourced organizations.

The #GrabYourWallet hashtag was created in October 2016 to encourage a boycott of Trump supported companies—not only ones the family owns, but also others whose owners have expressed support. Recently the list had more than 30 names on it.

On the other side of the debate, Trump supporters have used social media aggressively to call for boycotts for companies whose Super Bowl ads they did not like (including Budweiser) or those which have policies at odds with their views, including Starbucks and, of course, Nordstrom.

And to make matters worse, in many instances those well-resourced organizations forced to defend themselves have been scrambling because they have not been innovative in their own adoption of technology for their crisis preparedness plans.

The most obvious area of vulnerability is in social media.

Unless you have updated—if not completely rebuilt—your crisis plan within the past 12 months, it will not have the social media capabilities needed to win control of a fast-moving threat to your reputation or business.

Online news, innuendo, gossip and conversation accelerate the visibility of the story and alter its shape before the company has even issued its first statement.

Now is the right time to look closely at your crisis preparedness plan. Are your team and crisis response strategy supported by the resources, expertise and tools to manage a fast-moving issue in the digital arena?

Let’s assume you have updated your plan, you’ve got the crisis team members on alert and have taken them through drills to get them ready to face the worst that social media can throw at them.

So how will you find the plan when you need it?

When that Presidential tweet appears at 5 a.m. on a holiday weekend, how do you get access to the carefully laid out responses, messages and procedures that it contains?

And how do you activate the team? Where are their contact details? How do you instantly call a meeting and brief them on the emerging threat?

Well, the technology that instantly allows you to do this, and more, from an app on your smartphone has existed for some time.

I do have to declare an interest. RockDove Solutions created the market-leading mobile crisis app, In Case of Crisis, which is already in use by more than 750 institutions across most major market sectors, including Philips, Valspar, Sunsweet, Fluidmaster and HMS.

But in this case, I am going to endorse all our competitors as well.

If the technology exists to instantly access your crisis plan and immediately activate your crisis team and do so using the one device you always have with you—your smartphone—why would you not do so?

The alternatives don’t get it done. It can be a real struggle to get offsite access to your company’s intranet. Even worse, the plan may still be in a ring binder in your office filing cabinet.

Think of the time wasted by the need to contact each member of the crisis team one by one.

Whatever else the President’s tweets have showed us, they have shown it’s time to embrace technology as a friend in crisis response.

It’s already driving the threats.

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