If you glance around the next time you’re fueling your vehicle at the gas station, you may notice a large, red button in a prominent place by the checkout station. This button shuts off the flow of gas if there’s a leak or fire, preventing further damage. In an industry where much of the content used is pre-written and queued up, putting in a “pump shutoff” button for posts, as well as putting an easy takedown method in place, is essential for brand development and perception. Your content writers are often working in a bubble, having only the keywords and prompts you’ve given them to go off of, unaware of industry news and faux pas lurking on the sidelines.
Stop the Presses: Cultural Sensitivity
Consider the unfortunate placement of an ad for the ATP Gun Shop in Charleston, SC – an advertising “stickie” that had been planned months in advance, when placed over a front page story about the recent gun-related tragedy, instantly made the store look callous and tone-deaf. In this case, the store would likely have pulled the ad, had they known it was going live that day and had a method to do so. Content always carries the potential to be that sticky note – well written, full of great marketing points, and debuting in the worst possible place in the worst possible time. Whoever is in charge of your content should always scan it for potential perception problems prior to putting it live, and someone in your company should always be monitoring your social media feeds and blog comments. If a culture clash happens at 9pm and causes a traceable outroar on Twitter, you don’t want to have to dig your way out of a mountain of protests and bad press 12 hours later, after the issue has been spread across the internet.
Broad Accessibility, Narrow Parameters
Not all content problems come from planned content alienating your audience. In the case of a malicious cyberattack or disgruntled former employee, grabbing control of your content is difficult without powering it down first. Any employee that works with your content should be able to hit the shutoff button and put things on pause, but only executive staff should have the ability to turn content back on again. This prevents overuse of the content shutoff feature as well, encouraging your staff to get it right the first time whenever possible.
Always Have a Placeholder
The internet rarely forgives and it definitely never forgets. The days where a panicked social media manager could simply delete troublesome tweets or comments have evaporated in the face of screenshots. Instead of trying to erase your mistakes, come up with a static image that you can post or link to when pulling down a piece of content for censorship or review. The wording should be neutral enough to apply to nearly any situation, and should acknowledge that you have heard the protests of your audience, that their perception is important to your company, and that an internal team is looking into the problem content, all without admitting specific guilt or deletion. Asking your content writers to help you create this placeholder will get your “pump shutoff” button in place and allow you to breathe a little easier in a content crisis.
The best way to prevent inherent content problems is to ensure you’re giving your content writers clear, simple direction to begin with. Even so, having a shutoff mechanism in place for all the internet updates your company produces will give you a valuable safety net and steer you away from potential scandals.
Writer Bio: Delany M is a freelance writer available for projects at WriterAccess.