This is the third part of a series on crisis communication on social media in Vietnam by GCPR member EloQ Communications. We previously wrote about why companies who operate in Vietnam should use social media more for crisis communication. Now we’ll explore some reasons why companies here often choose not to, and why most of those are mistaken.
1. They want to distance themselves from the crisis
Oftentimes, companies believe that by staying out of the fray they can ignore the controversy and it will die down on its own. But in fact, information avoidance is the least effective method of crisis management. That’s especially true in this age of social media posts, which don’t just vanish into the ether but catch on and spread, gaining more interested followers (and bandwagon jumpers) along the way. Not only does attempting to ignore a crisis make it look like a company doesn’t care about its stakeholders, but social media users who don’t receive a response (or receive an insufficient response) are more likely to stage campaigns and boycotts against the company. Sincere, open communication is exactly what stakeholders want, and it’s what will allow them to forgive a company and move on.
2. They believe using social media means giving up control
In some ways it’s true that print media in Vietnam offers greater message control: organizations can craft a definitive response to a crisis and direct all attention there, and there is no chance of it getting taken over by hostile voices. Where it fails is timeliness and public perception. While the company is asking people to wait for their official word, the crisis may already be spiraling to uncontrollable levels. And if the stakeholders believe the official message fails to address their concerns, the company can look cold and out of touch.
3. They don’t believe it’s seen as trustworthy
With the spread of fake news and rumors-as-news on social media, it’s no surprise that companies believe that the platform is corrupt, and nothing they say on it will be trusted. But in facts, Vietnamese stakeholders indicate that they are well aware of this and will usually double-check news shared or claims made on social media before choosing to believe it.
4. They don’t want to make the effort
Less tech-savvy companies may believe that using social media to control a crisis will require a lot of extra effort. But PR experts generally believe this is not the case. Especially if the company is already engaged in social media platforms, crisis management can become an extension of this (although it will not replace the specialist knowledge and the intimate relationship the PR agencies have with the media), and potentially prevent a crisis from ever occurring. The problem occurs if…
5. They’re not prepared
The speed of social media is one of its key advantages, but it can be a curse for the under-prepared business. A crisis that is rapidly unfolding online leaves no time to form a task force and create procedures to address it. Businesses who operate in Vietnam should organize a team with specified duties and guidelines on how to form and spread the company’s crisis messaging long before it is needed.