5WPR Founder Ronn Torossian On Social Media Crisis Communication Strategies

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In today’s interconnected world, social media has become a double-edged sword for businesses and organizations. While it offers a powerful platform for engagement, promotion, and building brand loyalty, it also exposes entities to the risk of a crisis unfolding publicly and rapidly. Social media crises can erupt from various sources, such as negative customer experiences, employee misconduct, data breaches, product recalls, or public relations blunders. The way an organization responds to such crises on social media can significantly impact its reputation, credibility, and bottom line. Effective social media crisis communication strategies are essential for businesses to navigate these turbulent waters and come out stronger on the other side.

Social media crisis communication

A social media crisis is characterized by negative public attention that escalates rapidly across social media platforms. It can spread like wildfire, attracting mainstream media coverage and potentially damaging an organization’s reputation. Social media crisis communication strategies involve promptly and transparently addressing the issue, managing public perception, and mitigating potential damage to the brand’s image and credibility.


Being proactive is essential. Organizations should have a well-defined crisis communication strategy in place even before a crisis occurs. This crisis communication strategy should outline roles and responsibilities, communication channels, escalation procedures, and key messages.

Monitoring and detection

Constantly monitoring social media platforms for mentions, comments, and trends related to the organization is crucial. Early detection allows for a quicker response, minimizing the spread of misinformation.

Swift response

When a crisis hits, time is of the essence. Acknowledge the issue promptly and avoid silence. Inform stakeholders that the company is aware of the situation and is taking steps to address it.

Unified messaging

Ensure that all communication channels convey a consistent message. A disjointed response can lead to confusion and undermine the company’s efforts to regain control of the narrative.

Transparency and honesty

Honesty is the best policy. Provide accurate and transparent information to the public. Concealing or downplaying the situation can exacerbate the crisis.

Apologizing sincerely

If the organization is at fault, issue a sincere and genuine apology. Avoid half-hearted apologies or blaming external factors.

Engaging directly

Address concerns directly, both privately and publicly. Respond to comments, questions, and criticisms promptly and empathetically.

Humanizing the response

Social media is about people, not faceless entities. Use a personal tone to convey empathy and understanding.

Providing regular updates

Keep stakeholders informed about the steps being taken to address the crisis and prevent future occurrences. Regular updates demonstrate the company’s commitment to resolution.

Using visuals

Visual content can convey empathy and sincerity effectively. Use images or videos to show the efforts being made to rectify the situation.

Leveraging influencers

Engage with influencers who align with the brand’s own values to amplify positive messaging and counteract negative sentiment.

Containing and redirecting

If misinformation is spreading, calmly correct the record and redirect the conversation toward accurate information.

Pausing scheduled content

During a crisis, pause any scheduled promotional or unrelated content. Inappropriate content can appear insensitive and worsen the situation.

Legal considerations

Consult legal advisors to ensure that the company’s responses comply with regulations and aren’t exposing the organization to further risks.

Learning and improvement

After the crisis is resolved, conduct a thorough analysis of what went wrong and how the response could be improved in the future.

Ronn Torossian founded 5WPR, a leading PR agency.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and Chairman of 5WPR, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company’s growth, overseeing more than 275 professionals. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named “PR Agency of the Year” by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world’s most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine’s Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country’s foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations,” which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.

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