We live in a world of increasing connectivity and demand for real-time marketing. With a 24-hour news cycle and content being pushed through multiple social media channels, it’s vital to have the intellectual bandwidth on staff to manage the immediate demand. With centralized operations to facilitate rapid and targeted messaging, public relations war rooms can make or break a successful campaign, event or brand.
Preparation and Planning
What makes for an effective modern PR war room? Preparation and planning are essential. Draw strategic inferences and scheduling cues from previous, similar or competitor events and programs. Was the last townhall, Twitter chat or Google+ Hangout a success? Why or why not?
Is every department or issue area represented? Do you need surrogates lined up for media hits? Check schedules to see who is available. Ensure all team members and spokespersons have background and appropriate messaging going in. Getting the right team prepped and ready to go should be done well in advance.
Have as much pre-approved content as possible, including messaging strategy with examples, talking points for spokespeople and digital content with infographics, photos and videos.
Build a timeline, but remember to budget room for spontaneity. Inevitably something will surprise you. Will you have the intellectual, informational and physical resources to provide a thoughtful response?
For rapid response events, what will you need to maintain successful operations for the duration of the event? Equip your team in advance—a live stream, multiple screens to monitor news coverage, pre-approved statements and news releases and maybe even dinner to keep the staff going.
If you don’t have the right team in place with the right resources, your brand likely won’t be on message.
How do you win on social media? You’ll need to have a focused strategy for messaging throughout.
Think about who the influencers are and engage appropriately, using replies, retweets and favorites. Does your brand have a frequent complainer on Twitter? It isn’t effective to reply to every negative comment, but you should respond to critics and customer service complaints.
Use apps to maximize your reach. Don’t miss out on opportunities to appropriately exploit innovations of social media like Instagram, Swarm, TweetDeck or HooteSuite.
Having socially savvy people with content and messaging that’s pre-approved equips and empowers your team of digital ninjas with a solid foundation to win.
Metrics and Evaluation
Deliverables should be clearly defined, and feedback should be expected.
Are you trying to beat last year’s social media analytics? Which ones—impressions, engagement or new followers? Defining the goals specifically sets the expectation for success. Doing this will ensure you have someone ready to go on-camera after an event or can push your team to capture a wider audience for digital engagement.
Continuous feedback is important, too. Listen to your team on site so nothing is missed. And before you put the campaign to rest, make recommendations for future operations to help the next event or program be an even bigger success.
Bringing it all together.
Preparation and planning will be the crux of the operation. Focusing on these tips for a modern PR war room should set you with a stellar team equipped to effectively communicate – and more importantly, engage – with your most critical audiences when it matters most.