Crisis Communications for Nonprofits and Brands

or What to do on your worst day on social media

Last week I had the pleasure to present at the fifth annual ConnectVA Nonprofit Social Media Conference – “Becoming a Networked Nonprofit”.   The full day conference included a panel discussion, multiple speakers, and a presentation and workshop from the one and only social media guru Beth Kanter.  There were a couple members of The Spark Mill team at the conference so we took a “divide and conquer” approach to ensure we heard all of the awesome information being shared. Check out #smc4np16 for a full recap of the day. 

My session focused on Crisis Communications – the importance of having a social media crisis management plan in place.  In case you missed it, you can download the presentation.  If you do not currently have a crisis management plan, here are some next steps to get one started.


  1. Form a Team
  2. Set up a Crisis Protocol
  3. Create a pool of talented and trained champions
  4. Do work around worst case scenarios

You may be thinking, “it won’t happen to me”, or “we will deal with it if/when we need to” – I can’t stress enough the importance of being prepared.  In my presentation I discussed some local and national examples of poorly handled social media disasters.  These organizations made mistakes such as mixed messaging, failure to respond, and defensive posturing.  Here are some tips of effective approaches should you find yourself in a crisis.   You can also find helpful information on our social media disasters Pinterest board.


  1. Be attentive and be human, social media is just that, SOCIAL.
  2. Respond quickly, the first 24 hours are critical.
  3. Speak with a consistent message from all voices in your organization or company.
  4. DO NOT delete negative comments unless they violate an internal policy barring hate speech.  
  5. Respond and invite communication off line.

If you have any questions as you set up your crisis management plan or still aren't sure why you need one – give us a call or shoot us an email and we will be happy to help guide you.