Crisis Communications: Today at 11.37am The Sydney Morning Herald reported that an attack on the Family Planning NSW website potentially exposed the personal information of up to 8000 clients, including women who have booked appointments or sought advice about abortion, contraception and other services over the past 2½ years. Read More
While Family Planning NSW had notified each person in their database about the breach and set up a phone hotline and dedicated contact email there was a lack of communication from Family Planning NSW on their social media channels after the media announcement and this could be very beneficial.
Their Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram channels had no mention of the incident – many channels had a positive post about Nurses Day. Their Facebook page had a holding pinned post simply saying their website is getting a ‘security update’ and they would be back online soon but it did not tell the whole story.
While the story online has only just broken, it was evident that this attack occurred some weeks ago and ideally, they would have been planning their crisis comms roll out since that date.
Jonathon Bernstein writes about crisis communications and discusses the 5 central tenets of good crisis communications as:
So how would this ideally play out on digital channels? These are some topline thoughts:
- Each social media channel would have a clear and compassionate holding statement immediately on the channel as women would seek out further information via these channels once the crisis has occurred. Many discuss the first hour after a crisis as the ‘golden hour of power’ – this is when people are seeking information and reassurance that the issue is at hand. It is clear that they have set up a phone hotline and email address for queries which is excellent but these should be publicised via the social media channels.
- A video of the director discussing what has occurred and the state of play could be sent out via channels including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The content would be honest and compassionate and if necessary be updated throughout the day or weeks to ensure it was informative.
- Round the clock monitoring should be occurring on social media channels and a social media team engaged to respond promptly to comments and queries.
Regardless of whether the organisation wants to engage in social media discussions, these will occur on these channels so it is vital to be there and take a proactive approach.
Over the coming hours and days as the news spreads women will gravitate to these channels and expect them to be informative and interactive as they ask questions and make comments.
While Family Planning NSW has unfortunately become a victim in this situation their reputation will now hang in the balance as they manage the communication regarding the crisis itself.
Many organisations both Government and corporate are overwhelmed with work and under-resourced. Events such as these push into the spotlight the importance of good resourcing and planning to not only inform those seeking information but to maintain the reputation of the organisation.