Corporations face unexpected situations that pose significant risk to their reputation, brand, and profits more often than not. In today’s rapid paced and social media obsessed society, news of such PR nightmares will be spread globally in mere hours, even minutes. And while social media can cause numerous headaches for corporations, the same additional problem can instead function as a potential solution for a corporation’s image.
Non-profits can face the same media disasters that for-profit businesses face. In many respects, non-profits have much more to lose with a damaged brand or reputation, as non-profits rely almost solely on outside help to accomplish their mission. For this reason, non-profits are, and perhaps rightfully should be, much more controlling of their disclosure of information and monitoring what is said about the organization.
My chosen organization, Ronald McDonald House Charities, is undoubtedly at risk of such potential situations like any other business. As stated by my sources, the best way to prepare for a disaster is to actually prepare for any given situation beforehand. A few examples that could threaten RMHC’s brand include (but certainly not limited to): employees or volunteers tweeting negative commentary about the organization, families unhappy with various aspects making their displeasure public, and an in-house shake-up being made public. Non-profits are prime targets for exploitative business people, who seek to abuse their position at a non-profit for personal gain. For all these situations, I would try to have a prepared response.
RMHC, as most non-profits and corporations alike, likely try to keep any potential scandal contained and secret. However, such a smooth recovery is not always possible, especially with social media. If I were doing reparative work following a crisis, I would use almost all the social media presence available to the organization, ie. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The most important aspects, I believe, would be honesty and equilibrium across all channels. A hypothetical situation of a family spreading negative comments via Twitter would certainly warrant personal outreach. However, I would also prepare a tweet such as, “We are extremely sorry for your issues with your stay. We promise to take into consideration your worries and address them efficiently.”
Moreover, I would focus on the positive happenings at the moment, rather than the negative. Without ignoring or covering up whatever the crisis may be (if said crisis has already been made public), I would use social media channels to spread the organization’s mission. For example, a Facebook post detailing the success of a recent fundraising event, with pictures and quotes from volunteers, would do much to repair damage and continue upholding RMHC as a beneficiary organization in the eyes of the people.
In essence, I believe the mightiest form of defense for RMHC when using social media to combat possible negative perception would be complete honesty, consistency, and positivity. Ronald McDonald House Charities is a wonderful organization, and I believe people will look past any unwanted negativity in a crisis to continue supporting the organization.