Navigating Political Scandal and Reputation Crisis in Social Media

In Social Media and Crisis Communication (2nd edition) (Eds: Y. Jin and L. Austin). Routledge.

Abstract: Social media presents unique challenges and opportunities to practitioners in the public affairs context. The dominant social media platforms allow organizations to communicate directly with voters, supporters, and customers, permitting them to circumvent traditional media. But this unrivaled access comes at a price that includes heightened scrutiny of messaging, an accelerated news cycle, and exposure to hyper-partisanship. When organizations find themselves in the midst of a crisis born from social media or extending into that context, these opportunities and risks are heightened. Public officials and candidates for elective office in the midst of a political scandal confront operational risk, exposure to trolls and bots, as well as public confusion regarding the parties responsible for its management. Organizations unaccustomed to regular engagement in public affairs similarly find themselves in uncharted waters. They may be exposed to unusually high levels of social media pressure and face the prospect of lasting damage to their brands. Building appropriate infrastructure for managing social media, including the use of appropriate analytics, establishing clear lines of responsibility for social media, deploying third parties as needed, and a long-term reputation management program can help organizations endure even unforeseen crises in the midst of a political scandal or reputation crisis.

Joseph Watson 

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