New research suggests that PR chiefs are blaming social media for causing reputational crises. At the same time, firms are said to be increasingly turning to social media to defuse crises. However, experts disagreed over the extent to which companies had got to grips with social media.
Regester Larkin managing director Andrew Griffin commented: ‘Social media have really taken off in crisis management in recent months.
‘Almost all the projects we are working on have some sort of social media element to them, primarily because it is so useful a tool for campaigners and so hard a tool for corporates to get right.'
But Porter Novelli head of crisis Neil Bayley said companies still had further to go. He said: ‘Proactively assessing readiness for a digital media crisis is still something many companies have not embraced. We are starting to see them build elements of digital media into crisis simulation exercises and process development, but rarely do they test response capabilities.'
The comments coincide with research showing that more than 70 per cent of agencies blame social media as the main cause of igniting communications crises for clients.
Market research consultancy Dynamic Markets questioned 100 senior figures and 108 in-house bosses between 27 January and 12 February.
Some 24 per cent said traditional media ignited crisis situations. But bloggers attracted the most blame for igniting crises (34 per cent), followed by social networking sites (24 per cent) and forums (eight per cent).
Half of all agencies (51 per cent) had a client that had experienced a crisis management situation involving social media in the past 12 months. Some 61 per cent said the use of social media had exacerbated the story, while 45 per cent said it gave journalists easy access to disgruntled people.