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Crisis Communicator

by Randall Craig on December 1, 2010

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Social Media, Strategy

Tagged as: , , ,

When someone sends a nastygram directly to you via email, it’s easy to deal with them directly: there’s just one person. But in the Social Media world, that nastygram gets broadcast everywhere. And when others start repeating, retweeting, and adding to the message, the problem escalates further.

Many organizations – and many individuals – have jumped on the Social Media bandwagon, but are woefully unprepared when something goes wrong. Are you?

Pre-empt: If you know that there is a problem, it is fairly certain that people will find out about it. By announcing and addressing it beforehand, you appear pro-active and customer-focused.

Ignore: This is the strategy that most organizations use, merely because they are ignorant of the conversations currently underway. After you have a monitoring process in place, then you can make an appropriate decision to ignore. The rationale for ignoring an issue is simple: why pour fuel on the fire? The troublemaker is likely hoping to make your response as much “the story” as the original issue.

Engage: In this strategy, you seek to open the conversation with the troublemaker and the wider social media community. While you may not be empowered to fix the situation, you may be able to demonstrate reasonableness, compassion, and understanding. Done properly, you will not only diffuse the situation, but also learn something important that can be fed back into your organization’s product development or service delivery processes.

Fight: Fighting can happen through aggressive engagement (the “flame war”), or it can happen through legal channels (eg threats), or it can happen by invoking the Social Media venue’s terms of service. The problem with the Fight strategy is that your Fight can quickly become the story, particularly if it fits the David and Goliath “insensitive big corporation” narrative. We recommend that this strategy only be used once the troublemaker crosses a line (eg libel), or other crisis techniques have proven unsatisfactory.

Solicit Support: You don’t need to do anything alone! Whenever a contentious issue arises, reach out to your supporters: generically through a tool such as Twitter, or directly by picking up the phone/writing an email. Your goal with this strategy is to ask your engaged community to advocate on your behalf. A third party endorsement (or rebuttal) is more powerful than anything that you can say yourself.

Of course, there are a number of other issues, including choosing a spokesperson, coordination with off-web messaging, etc, but these overall crisis strategies are a great way to frame your response.

This week’s action plan: While there may not be a crisis this week, becoming a crisis communicator happens well before the problem starts. In addition to the above five strategies, here is a sixth: create a crisis plan, so that when it eventually hits, you ‘ll be ready.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)


Go-to Guy

by Randall Craig on March 11, 2008

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Management,

Tagged as: , , ,

Is there one person at your workplace who everyone knows can solve just about any problem? Is there one person that your manager goes to when they need to get something done? This person has a title: the Go-to Guy. It doesn’t matter what the task – big, small, clerical, managerial, easy, or tough – the Go-to Guy gets it done. Are you that person?

What is the secret to becoming a Go-to Guy? The secret is there is no secret – just common sense:

  • When asked to take on a task, say yes – and then figure out how it can be done.
  • Deliver on your promises – consistently.
  • Have a positive attitude.

Not surprisingly, these are the same basic attributes that will contribute to your success throughout your career. If people aren’t asking for your help, they may see you more as the Stay-away-from Guy.

This week’s action item: Decide that you will answer each request for assistance with a positive “leave it to me” – instead of “I don’t think I can help.” To kick-start the process, be pro-active: ask your colleagues and managers if you can take care of one of their tasks. Becoming a Go-to Guy isn’t just about solving other’s problems, it is about putting yourself in a position to develop new skills, stronger relationships, and wider job experiences.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)


Light the Fire

by Randall Craig October 31, 2006

While camping, a group of four friends – all managers – were talking about teamwork. As the evening wore on, it became colder, and each person went to put on a warm jacket and a hat – except the fourth: he went scavenging for wood. After thirty minutes, he came back, wood in arms, and […]

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Starting a New Job

by Randall Craig October 24, 2006

You’ve been through a grueling interview process and you’ve finally got the job or won that promotion. What can you do right at the start to guarantee your success? The truth is that nothing is guaranteed in today’s environment, but take care of a few key things, and your chances of success can improve drastically: […]

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