Weber Shandwick Offers Social Media Crisis Simulator
Many PR firms specialize in helping companies with crisis communications-but New York-based PR giant Weber Shandwick has taken its efforts a step further.
Software developers and social media strategists at the firm's Minneapolis office have developed a simulator that creates an authentic, real-time experience through which clients can practice what to do when they're being attacked through social media channels.
Called FireBell, clients can use the tool to participate in dialogue in a secure, off-the-Internet environment that arms them with information about what to do when real crises occur. FireBell simulates crisis situations on multiple social media platforms-including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Digg, LinkedIn, and blogs.
“More than ever, social interactions can have material impact on brand perception and reputation. It's critical that clients understand how issues spread and how to react in as close to real time as possible,” Chris Perry, president of digital communications at Weber Shandwick, said in a statement. “Communications leaders need to understand that it's not a matter of if an online crisis is going to happen, but when-and be prepared.
The simulation begins with a plausible crisis scenario that's devised by Weber Shandwick but not shared with the client. Using offline but functioning versions of the client's social media pages, the client can witness and respond to fictional crises, including anti-Facebook pages and blogs slamming it.
The exercise addresses both how and when clients should engage with audiences via social media.
“How a company responds to a crisis in today's social environment is vastly different than even the recent past,” Perry said in a statement. “A formal statement to the press no longer suffices. It's about a living dialogue with a company's constituents.”
Weber Shandwick is Minnesota's largest PR firm based on companywide net fee income, which totaled an estimated $22.5 million during the company's most recently completed fiscal year.