Are You Ready for a Real-Time Marketing and PR Crisis?

social media book reviews“Marketers no longer have control.” Have you heard this before? Maybe you’ve lived it firsthand?

Social media has enabled people to rapidly swarm—creating monsoons that can cause serious damage to your business OR create serious opportunities if you’re ready.

The upside to real time goes way beyond crisis management. Real-time firestorms can create once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for businesses that are prepared and can quickly respond.

In this article, I’ll review what you can do right now to prepare for your next real-time situation.

What Guitars Can Teach You About Real-Time Marketing

Have you heard of Dave Carroll? If you haven’t, watch this video called “United Breaks Guitars.”

United Airlines refused to treat Dave fairly. So he created the above video out of frustration. Now more than 9 million people know how poorly United Airlines treated Dave.

If you Google “United Airlines,” you’ll see Dave’s video comes up on page 2. Translation: This one act is now etched into the annals of time and won’t go away anytime soon.

Simply said, it was a PR nightmare for United Airlines. Take a look at this article to see how poorly United responded.

What does any of this have to do with you?

David Meerman Scott in his new book Real-Time Marketing & PR explains in his opening paragraph, “Speed and agility are essential attributes in today’s marketplace. And yet even as the timescales on which we do business compress, most businesses almost always operate slowly and deliberately.”

How would you have responded if you were United? Are you really ready to respond to a real-time crisis, the moment it arises?

Fortunately David wrote a book on this topic. And the story only starts with Dave Carroll.

A few smart companies, including Taylor Guitars, took quick advantage of the growing firestorm. Check out the video response of Bob Taylor, founder of Taylor Guitars (posted 4 days later, and viewed 500,000 times).

How to Prepare for Real-Time Opportunities and Threats

There a lot of simple steps you can take to be ready when a real-time situation arises. Perhaps the easiest first step is to get your hands on David Meerman Scott’s new book Real-Time Marketing & PR.

Here’s my quick video review of the book:

The following real-time marketing tips come straight from David’s book:

Engage in the midst of the crisis: Real time does not operate on a 9-to-5 schedule. Your organization needs to be monitoring and ready to respond around the clock, as the crisis is occurring.

Use Twitter as your real-time communications tool: The media will be monitoring what people are saying on Twitter. This gives you an opportunity to join in on the discussion in real time, providing an insider’s perspective.

Establish relationships with journalists BEFORE a crisis happens: Reach out to influential journalists in your industry. Follow and respond to them on Twitter, comment on their articles and send email introductions. Hopefully they’ll follow you back on Twitter so you can send them direct messages if a crisis occurs.

Don’t just sit back and think, “This will never happen to me or my company.” If you have that mentality, you’ll be ill-prepared when (not if) your marketing monsoon occurs.

Do you have firsthand experience dealing with a real-time crisis (or a real-time opportunity)? What did you do? What tips would you add? Please leave your comments in the box below.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author, Michael Stelzner

Michael Stelzner is the founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner, founder of My Kids' Adventures and author of the books Launch and Writing White Papers. He's also the host of the Social Media Marketing podcast. Other posts by »




More Info
  • http://inklingmedia.net Ken Mueller

    Excellent advice, and great examples. In some ways I think it’s the “real time” thing that scares so many businesses, and they think by avoiding social media they can avoid that kind of crises. You’re review has convinced me to go out and get David’s book!

  • David Meerman Scott

    Mike – Thanks so much for the video review and the blog post about my book. I’m so excited that after more than a year of work, the book is finally out. I’m thrilled that you liked the book and hope that your readers do too.

    Best, David

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Outstanding work David. I am convinced it will have a big impact on many businesses

  • http://www.mikepedersen.com/ Mike Pedersen

    Funny you mention David’s book, as I just bought the Kindle version day before yesterday. Love the guitar example. Pretty powerful stuff. I like how it gives the power back to the consumer. Screw United LOL!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13803832 Nick Robinson

    I can think of a perfect example of a company not taking advantage of real-time marketing. Back in 2007-2008, a travel company’s cruise ship sank in Antarctica, and the company decided to take the traditional media route by issuing press releases that took more than 2 weeks to get published. Meanwhile, the social media world had already posted about 2 million pieces of content about the company destroying the natural environment of Antarctica!

  • http://easysocialmediamanagement.com Lauren McMullen

    I love the fact that marketing is now where it belongs, in the hands of the consumer! The most successful businesses will have their fingers on the pulse of the people in their market and be ready to respond at a moments notice. Many businesses will be able to take potential damaging content and turn it around to their advantage using social media.

  • http://www.mazakaro.com Rahul @ MazaKaro

    Loved the guitar example !!!! i found it a very convincing video , and the book sounds very interesting to me by the way, thank you for sharing this , it’s time for real businesses to know some primordial points !!!

  • Addoway, Inc

    Great information and I also love the guitar example.

  • Richard Le Cocq

    Great article. I’ve recently written a few basic guidelines to handling “bad press” via social media. I think many brands could learn to be more vigilant and more prepared!

    My article is here:

    http://www.entertainmentmarketing.com/2010/09/the-streisand-effect/

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/cathleenedgerly Cathleenedgerly

    Fantastic article, I just participated in David Meerman Scott’s Real TIme Marketing & PR webinar and see the similar points. His advice is so helpful to all professionals, without a real time response system in place (approved by a legal team) companies can get sunk if they do not respond. And most importantly, we need to respond in the similar medium (online video, Twitter, blogs, etc.) where the origional postings were. I value Scott’s advice to switch from using social media and instead using the “real time” terminology to help convince company CEO’s and others about the importance of responding to our clients, at the point where they are engaged and looking for us. Thanks for sharing and I know I’ll be developing my “real-time” mindset!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alicia-Gomez-Martin/1027863926 Alicia Gómez Martín

    Fantastic article!!

  • Brenda Hollohan

    It’s always a question of thinking on your feet and damage control. If you think through the situation carefully, you can at the very least neutralize bad press and in many situations, turn the press around so that you come out on top. NEVER make the assumption that the readers are easily fooled.

  • Rafael Castillo

    Some companies fail to place emphasis on allowing the first line leader or supervisor to resolve the issue above the consumers expectation. If UA would have immediately accepted the responsibility of the employees actions and resolve the issue to the consumers expectations, this could have been avoided. No need for crisis management. Find the root cause.

  • Carrie

    Great information! I hate to admit that I probably clicked on the United Breaks Guitar video when it came out at least 20 times.

  • http://barbaraling.com/ Barbara Ling

    Love the idea about being proactive *before* a crisis happens; the media can really be your friend. Pizza Hut, I don’t think, had that tool at hand last year, but they did rebound very well during their trial by fire.

  • http://www.businessvitamins.co.uk Selina

    I think there are a lot of companies in the UK that could learn from this!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/MichaelDButler Michael Butler Sr

    I really enjoyed the call and the comments thanks everyone!

  • http://darraghkelly.me Darragh Kelly

    Great post and a timely one for me, real-timelineness is the key and to be able to leverage it you have to take a certain amount of risk and that is the inherent problem for businesses, the risk, not controlling the moment.

    I am off to amazon to get this book!

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    I know that the only reason I am with my current hosting company is because they responded quickly when I tweeted that my site was down. I got customer service within half an hour via direct messages and a call from not just a rep, but a customer service manager. It kept me from being lured by other hosting companies that were recommending me to switch at the time.

  • Mdixon

    Mr. Scott my name is Miles Dixon from Detroit, MI. I found Mike’s review of your book very interesting. Is there anyway I can interview you for my new online publication Social Biz? I would love to do a book review and a featured story. My contact information is 313.961.0961 Office and 313.722.6223 Direct.

    Also, to learn more on what I do you can email me: mdixon@milesdixon.com.

  • http://dinodogan.com/ Dino Dogan

    I heard about this but never seen the video..thnx for sharing Mike, that was awesome. As a guitar player and a lover of Taylors I can totally relate to this video. Taylor guitars have that certain something extra special. They cost and arm and a leg and they are worth twice as much. And once you play one you never want to go back to anything else.

    Oh…and by the way, the baggage handlers are colloquially known as throwers. I thought everybody knew that :-)

    Im not surprised United didnt want to cover the price of a Taylor. That would have been several thousand dollars out of their pockets. Penny wise dollar stupid as they say.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Today such actions would be even less exceptable Nick

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Lauren, I concur

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Good points Rafael

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hi Michael, what call?

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Cool story Kristi

  • http://www.facebook.com/RoxanneGreen1 Roxanne Green

    I’m in the middle of a customer service nightmare with Net10. Here is the link to the facebook posts documenting the horrible customer service with the current problem http://www.facebook.com/NET10Wireless/posts/452337909092?notif_t=feed_comment_reply and here is a blog post documenting the horrible customer service via phone from a few days ago http://roxannegreen.com/244/net-10-worst-customer-service-ever/Companies need to realize that we do not have to sit down and take their BS. If they don’t provide good customer service, thanks to the internet we can let the whole world know about it.

  • David

    Perhaps some companies are proud of the way they are. I had a severe baggage problem with UA in early 2001.they called the police. It was a mess. Some companies never change even if the world and social media does. Let’s hope social media will actually hurt some of the bad guys.

  • http://joelmturner.com/ Joel Turner

    Great article! I’m definitely going to check out this book. I happened to watch an interesting PR storm with the Alaska State Fair on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/alaskastatefair). They did a great job of driving the discussion to their facebook page and away from other outlets. They allowed everyone to voice their opinions as long as they adhered to the Alaska State Fair social media policy. The issue passed and Alaska State Fair came out with more fans and advocates than before the crisis. Very interesting to watch.

  • http://www.wickedinnovations.com/ Jeorge Peter

    Excellent views here everyone, I add myself as one who also likes that guitar video!

  • http://twitter.com/JCALL98 Judd Callender

    Michael, thanks for the article. Have you ever thought of a company or individual publishing your tweets in your email signature block as a PR or crisis management tool? This can be done at the server level so that it automatically embeds your last Tweet into the signature block in all of your outbound emails. This is also nice, because a corporation or PR frim can be in control of the message and change or adapt it real time. I can’t think of much of a faster way to get your message out during a crisis or even a positive PR statement when considering the staggering volume of emails that leave corporate servers every second. Imagine if when Toyota recently had its PR nightmare, if they could have instantly began to publish Tweets in all of their outbound emails with a link directing people to a video or press release telling the consumer about what they were doing to correct the situation. Talk about instant damage control! Please let me know if you would like to know more about this exciting new tool. judd@sincerelymarketing.com

  • Mohammad shukeir

    Excellent ..thx

  • Fastpup

    Thank you for sharing this information. I had no idea

  • @_toomuchfun

    Taking into account that comunication speed suffers some damage when company comunication on social networks is handed over to an agency, what do you recomend when a crisis arises and there’s no information available to settle angry users down?

    This is exactly my case, the company we’re providing service for has a really bad habit of giving out information way after it’s due, I mean like 2 weeks after we need it. This causes a lot of problems among the users we have in the comunities we manage, we try to improvise to buffer complaining costumers while we wait for the official info to arrive, however it’s all to very little use since it doesn’t really fix the problem. We urge our client to deliver their information quickly to keep up with real time demands, but it’s been quite difficult given the large size of the company and all the burocracy involved. I’ll appreciate any useful feedback, thanks!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    I would show them the video on this page and help them understand the type of damage control they could be looking at if things get out of control

  • Pingback: PR Firms Botch 95% of Social Media Campaigns? | Spin Sucks

  • Pingback: 7 Tips To Optimize Facebook News Feed and Increase Page Exposure | Dominy Media

  • Biggy

    Unbelievable what people can achieve through real-time marketing! Famous example…

  • Pingback: Real-time marketing – REALly ??? | ICM Social Media for Marketing







Check out the Social Media Marketing Podcast!
Join our Social Media Marketing Networking Club
Download the free Social Media Marketing Industry Report

Get Your FREE Copy of the 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report

Wondering how your peers are using social media? Get this free report (50 pages, 80+ charts) and never miss another great article from Social Media Examiner.