Social media storms: what happens and what can PR professionals do to stem the storm chaos?

Social media storms: what happens and what can PR professionals do to stem the storm chaos?

Claire Walker

Claire Walker

Has your brand, or a brand that you have worked for, ever experienced a social media crisis?  Is it something you are prepared for?  Read more about how it can unfold; and register for an invitation to a Firefly event on 11th March that will educate, prepare and future-proof your social media crisis strategy.

The fact that consumers and customers voice issues, complaints and frustrations with products, services and brands is nothing new.  But with the increasing proliferation of social media, the way we’re doing it is more powerful. With social media being an open forum, anyone and everyone can air their views, more often than not knowing that others will sympathise and even help support your cause.


Just recently, for example, the hashtag #SochiProblems trended during the winter Olympics, as media from across the globe encountered problems in their hotels. Journalists gathered on Twitter and shared the issues they faced – from broken light fixtures to Wi-Fi routers hanging from the ceiling – and shared amusing photos and updates. Although it started in jest, it did question the allocation of funds for these Olympic Games.

A ‘rant’ in the right place, at the right time, in front of the right people can lead to change. A father sparked a campaign to address holiday costs during holiday time, following an update he wrote on Facebook.  As other parents sympathised, the ‘rant’ went viral, was shared over 143,000 times, and led to an online petition which will now be discussed in Parliament.

This ‘attack’ was on an industry but more often than not, issues arise directly with companies and leaving it too long before responding can further aggravate the issue. In the run up to the Brit Awards, Mastercard was at the heart of fall out between its PR agency and the journalists the agency was talking to. Not even going into the detail of the issue, Mastercard was too slow to respond – a lot can happen in four hours in social media land. And it did!

So, how can you prepare? A crystal ball could help but perhaps a practise session is best, learning from the way you deal with it. No one wishes a real crisis to practice on; which is why we’re hosting this workshop using an interactive social media simulator, so that you can experience what it would be like to be in the middle of a crisis that is unfolding online and raging around you.

Alongside the social media crisis simulation, guest speakers, Tamara Littleton from eModeration will explain which social media channels to respond to and how, and Magnus Boyd, will cover how to involve your legal teams and when to escalate things quickly.

Our event is on Tuesday 11th March, 8am–10am and has limited places.  If you would like more information, please email

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  1. A better question is “Who gives a rat’s posterior what anyone says on social media”?

  2. PR professionals have a role to play of course, but it’s increasingly about working with customer service teams / ambassadors to create process and specific guidelines so that they can better manage customers before, during and post crisis.

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