I think it’s safe to say – without actually getting political – that issues with trustworthiness in the 2016 Presidential race have been significant. Both sides are seeing their fair share of doubt, and fact checking has been a prevalent theme leading up to the first debate held on September 26.
With the general lack of trust expressed in large scale for the candidates, one of the most interesting things I saw during the Monday night debate, was the real-time content creation and fact-checking done by the parties and news outlets online during the event. NPR and several other sites live blogged the event or had the transcription of the full debate and called out the “facts” in question from both parties. Hillary Clinton did this on her site as well – even directing viewers to the site in an answer during the debate.
While news organizations and the politicians themselves may have been the greatest driver for fact checking efforts, Ford got in on the action as well after their name was invoked during the debate. Ford and United Auto Workers responded almost instantaneously, presenting infographics and metrics on the state of the industry and future plans.
While fact checking and healthy debate have historically been prevalent in US politics, the preparation these organizations took to monitor and respond, presenting the facts during this debate was significant. This takes a team that’s quick on their feet and ready to roll. While these particular examples may be the best fit for the political world, it showcases how to react quickly to a claim, event, or issue that your organization may be dealing with.
Having a solid plan for social media and your website in place to deal with a crisis, or to respond to negative publicity or incorrect information can help you protect yourself, and your organization. Setting in place the proper chain of command and knowing what is acceptable to say, when it is acceptable to say it, and who can do the talking is so important to handle these situations correctly. And while you may not directly hit all of your followers on social media, the beauty of using social to assist with crisis management is that you are able to reach journalists and influencers quickly to help disseminate pertinent information.
On the other hand, the type of reaction and response as Ford and UAW delivered may not be within standards for another company. A different line of attack may be warranted and required. For example, when Skittles was pulled into the debate with an analogy comparing the candy to Syrian refugees, the company declined to comment or participate in the conversation via social with the exception of one short and sweet statement from their brand. Each brand and corporation is unique. The plan of attack must be a fit for their overall communication strategy for it to work, and work well.