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Social Media: the good, the bad, and the ugly

As a member of Generation Z, I often struggle to imagine a time in my life where the internet and social media didn’t exist.

Though I may have missed the age of VHS tapes, my generation has grown up surrounded by the rise of social media. Joining Instagram at only 11 years old, I have had control over my online apperance for almost a decade.

Being a part of the online social circle for so long now, I have seen both the positives and negatives of social networking. While companies and brands want to gain followers and media attention, there are some drawbacks to online publicity when something doesn’t go as planned. Followers will become the company’s toughest critics, and the comment section can be a dangerous place. The PR industry is interesting, as PR practitioners and publicists must know exactly how to respond no matter the situation.

Crisis management and social media damage control are among the first things a PR major will learn in any intro to public relations course. If the company you represent is having a problem that is inconveniencing their stakeholders, or just morally wrong, you must apologize while addressing the situation immediately. Letting the public know what you are going to fix it and how long it will approximately take will put followers at ease, trusting that your company will keep them in the loop.

This PR crisis from United Airlines is a prime example of how impactful a bad response on social media can be.

On a more positive note, this article shows five PR crises that were properly handled.

Lets be real – comment sections can get ugly, especially if your brand boasts a bigger following. But remember, nobody likes to have their comments deleted. The best way to combat negative comments is to gain back control of the conversation and revive the brand’s reputation the right way – killing them with kindness.

Though there are countless times where social media has be at fault for starting a PR cris, we can’t forget everything that the same platforms have given us. This Huffington Post article shows how to use social media to a company’s advantage through cowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is an effective communication and marketing strategy to increase public interaction and involvement. Voting polls, questionnaires and online idea competitions allow companies to gain feedback from the public, which is mutually beneficial.

Arguably the best part about social media is that it is happening 24/7 and everything is shareable. Crowdsourcing takes full advantage of the multifaceted tool that is social media.

Cheerfully yours,

Kassidy