Public Relations // Social Media
May 3, 2017

Prep or Regret! Using Data to Prepare for a PR Crisis (SMMW17)

“Prep or regret!” was the battlecry at Gini Dietrich’s “How to Use Data and Analytics to Prepare for a Crisis” session at Social Media Marketing World 2017. Dietrich runs Arment Dietrich, a digital marketing communications firm in Chicago, and is the lead blogger at  In this day of alternative facts and tweets from President Trump at 5am that cause havoc for many companies, it pays to prepare in advance.

Dietrich suggested the following: Take data from your social listening and media monitoring and combine them. Then, decide what is an issue and what’s a crisis. Your company needs to be able to respond quickly to a crisis. In some cases, that response time needs to be 60 minutes or less!

These are my notes on how a PR team can prepare:

  • Don’t wait until a crisis hits you; start planning today.
    • Conduct social listening to find out what is being said about you, your management team, your products, your competitors, etc.
  • Complete a risk matrix.
    • Make a list of potential crisis scenarios and then decide ‘Is this an issue or a crisis?”
    • Issues could include tweets from unhappy customers, hashtags that can go crazy.
    • Is it a crisis or an issue if your company ends up on the radar of the President?
  • Use your data to develop possible responses to crisis scenarios.
    • Data can help you identify  your company’s weaknesses
    • Data allows you to look at past results to predict future
    • Monitor current crises with data from your social channels, competitors, even from dark social (private Facebook groups, Slack channels, etc.)!
  • Use tools to help you monitor data.
    • Create a dashboard to benchmark and track mentions over time
    • Set up Google Alerts so you can monitor your company executives, product names, competitors, etc.
    • Use Talkwalker to find out what people are talking about on social
    • Do keyword searches for your “crisis topics” using Mediatoolkit and Buzzsumo

Here is a short video that I shot right after the session with my main takeaways.

Dietrich reminded us that hard, cold data can be very valuable and we need to embrace it. Data tells us what happened in past, how was it managed, what needs to be reworked in the future. Data allows us to look at trends and start to predict what will happen in the future.

Now we all need to create our own risk matrix and prepare responses!