From Hero to Villain and Back Again

From Hero to Villain and Back Again

All organisations want to emerge from a crisis with their reputation at least intact and unaffected. But in some cases, there is a chance to appear to be the hero of the moment, stepping in to make things better and ease the pain. Putting yourself into the role of hero brings its own risks.

This was the focus of a webinar I gave looking at how heroes can become the villains and what to do when this impacts on your recovery. Thank you to SoCrowd for inviting me to discuss a subject that is often overlooked. For many businesses becoming the hero of the moment can be an exciting position to be in.

All the tough questions about what has happened have been banished for the moment. Everyone is talking positively about employees and what they have done. The organisation is riding high, and its reputation is growing despite the crisis that has emerged. This is a short-term response and these moments while exhilarating are short lived and burn out as quickly as they appeared. What you are often left with is the dawning realisation that things were not as magnificent as they appeared.

At this moment, the heroes can become the villains.

Responding to a crisis is not about right and wrong, good, and bad, black, and white. There will be things that went well and areas where improvements can be made. Learning, developing and above all looking to change as appropriate are essential within the response. Recovery and change go hand in hand, and both need to be in place to positively move forward after a crisis.

The recovery phase needs careful thought and planning. The crisis communication plan needs to become a recovery communication plan that takes account of what happened, what needs to happen and how the organisation is going to move forward. Using data, insight, feedback and debrief information is vital to plan a successful step into recovery and beyond. It is a time to be honest, to be positive about the next steps, and to explain the good and bad. For communicators this is about using messages like threads that will weave together to create a tapestry of understanding.

So, what next? Plan and prepare so you are ready for both crisis and recovery, and make sure the right systems and processes are in place to help you. Remember reputation matters but this comes from focusing on the people involved in the crisis and being honest about what has worked and where improvements can be made.

Watch our webinar: How To Recover Or Secure Your Reputation

Join Amanda Coleman, Crisis Communications Consultant and former Head of Corporate Communications for Greater Manchester Police, as she shared how to rebuild your reputation after a crisis and the five steps to recovery for when you’re looking ahead to what’s next.

5 ways local governments can use social media to enhance their environmental reputation

5 ways local governments can use social media to enhance their environmental reputation

The COP26 conference generated headlines as world leaders discussed big issues on the climate crisis. But it’s not just the international community that can make a difference. If you’re in local government, you’re on the frontline of helping the public take environmental responsibility – think recycling, for a start – but how else can you get involved in the conversation? 

Let’s look at some of the ways your council can push green behaviours and use social media to enhance your environmental reputation. 

1: Education, education, education 

Climate change is a massive subject, and sometimes people don’t know where to start when it comes to changing habits and making a difference. 

This is where local authorities come in – you’re far more accessible than world leaders, and some would say more relatable, too. Councils can play a key role in creating positive social media content that shows residents how to help in the climate crisis.  

Social’s ideal for sharing memorable, doable tips. We’ve seen our local government clients get fantastic responses, with environmental posts earning loads of likes, comments and shares. 

Local government green content inspiration: educating locals 

  • Share environmental issues relating to government services, like what residents can recycle at the kerbside and how to reduce waste going into landfill. 
  • Give hints and tips to help households reduce their carbon footprint – think reminders to turn off lights around the home. Stats on energy-saving make tips relevant and actionable. 

2: Going for green: councils build their environmental rep on social 

It’s important for organisations to show their values and that includes green credentials. So promote sustainability as part of your core local government brand to shows taxpayers you’re acting responsibly and making things better. 

Local government green content inspiration: sharing environmental credentials 

  • Show you’re making a difference within government operations. Have you gone paperless? Let’s see before and after posts sharing how much paper the council offices order now vs a year ago. 

3: Branch out with environmental content 

Get involved in wider environmental discussions to show you care about issues further than your doorstep.  

Local government green content inspiration: make global local 

  • Join the debate when it’s all happening in Glasgow, don’t forget to use #COP26, #OneStepGreener, #TogetherForOurPlanet, #ClimateAction, #NetZero 
  • Get involved with national and international environmental awareness days: download our handy Hashtag Calendar to stay in the loop. 

4: A weather eye on climate change campaigns 

So you’re talking about climate, but are you hitting the right note with followers? Use social media management reporting tools (like ours) to track engagement and see which posts get the biggest responses.  

When you know what your audience likes to hear about, it’s a breeze to plan future campaigns. 

5: Know which way the wind’s blowing 

Go one step further, too. Make sure you’re scanning the horizon for the green topics trending on Twitter and across the internet. Use a social listening and media monitoring tool to listen out for the latest climate change news. 

Don’t forget… 

It’s easy for the climate crisis to take a back seat against day-to-day news stories, so local governments can play a crucial role in highlighting issues that will affect residents, now and in the future. 

Showing you’re acting for the environment backs up your green credentials and builds your reputation on social. Grab a copy of our free guide, New Opportunities For Social Media In Local Government, for more on engaging with what matters. 

How universities are supporting students’ mental health with social media

How universities are supporting students’ mental health with social media

Imagine it: you’re trapped in a small room far from friends and family, unable to go out and meet people. Trying to study and form new relationships through a screen. The pressure to cope, but the fear of Covid.

The stark reality for students last year, it’s no wonder that more than half of them reported that their mental health was affected.

With anxiety, loneliness and depression piled on top of the usual pressures of living in a new city, being away from their support network, and adjusting to a learning experience that’s noticeably different from school – 2020 was reported as the worst year on record for student mental health.

So what did unis do to alleviate things?

Virtual support

With face-to-face contact a no-no, and today’s students highly engaged with all kinds of tech, it was a no-brainer for lots of unis to turn to social media to deliver mental health support services. Many also used social platforms to encourage students to share their experiences and create a sense of togetherness during the pandemic.

And now that we’re in this post-lockdown phase, many are keeping their social channels going as a valuable source of information and support for students.

Let’s take a closer look.

Creating a hub of connection

With the pandemic making it harder for students to form connections, The University of Lincoln set up their own online hub during lockdown called Student Life. It’s a place for students to get to know one another before and during uni and build those all-important support networks. The comms team post across Twitter, Facebook, Insta, TikTok and YouTube, so it’s easy for students to follow the latest hub info. They can even get involved in helping to run the hub, with paid positions on offer to enhance their CV, job prospects and resilience. The scheme has had a high uptake, and is set to continue this academic year and beyond.

Finding the balance

Another big source of stress for students (aside from the obvious health concerns) was knowing where they stood on things like accommodation, teaching arrangements and plans for assessment. So universities have been researching exactly what students need to know about, so they can share the right info at the right time, and promote their wellbeing services effectively on social.

The University of Sussex has taken a curated approach to wellbeing; they didn’t want to bombard their student body with too much info, so they carefully drip fed the comms that went out to get that balance just right.

Listening in

Other unis have been using social listening tools (available on a management platform like ours) to monitor for early warning signs when any individual student’s mental health is deteriorating. They use the platform’s monitoring function to listen for keywords in social posts, even when students aren’t talking directly to the institution. It means universities can reach out to students who are struggling and give them the support they need.

Using social as a channel for support

Ultimately, student mental health is still front and centre for universities in the UK and elsewhere. And as we move into this new phase of uni life, with hybrid studying and a lot of teaching still happening online, students will continue to need extra support and reassurance. Social media gives your HEI an effective channel to provide that support in the best way for your students.

Find out how you can use social media to enhance your mental health support strategy. Book a free demo with one of our team.


Protecting Reputation: How Social Media Plays A Vital Role

Protecting Reputation: How Social Media Plays A Vital Role

Whichever platform you use, there’s no denying: social media makes your brand visible. 

Some businesses worry that visibility can open you up to complaints, negativity and trolling. And yes, that can be the experience for brands that don’t have a proper handle on things. But really, using social media properly is your first line of defence in protecting your brand’s reputation. 

Let’s look at some examples.

Crisis management 

Let’s say there’s a crisis – maybe in your business, industry or region. Social media is one of the first places the public turns to, to voice concerns, ask questions and, of course, make complaints. Social media gives your brand the chance to respond publicly. It means you’re available to the people around you. And when you’re doing social well, your customer service team can be at the top of their game when it comes to response times, messaging and tone. 

With the right systems in place on social media, you can identify sensitive customer posts, too, and take action to get the responses just right. That might mean putting replies on hold – automatically – until senior management has had time to confirm the company line or release an official statement. And when you’re ready to go live, managers can edit or reject customer service responses to be sure followers get the service they need. Ultimately, your business has control over the image it puts out to the world. 

When things get nasty 

Here’s another scenario: an angry customer starts using abusive language online. With proper platform management in place, you can set up triggers to identify when someone uses racist, sexist, discriminatory or inflammatory language in reference to your business.  

If a post is flagged as sensitive, customer service teams then have a heads-up that they’re dealing with a delicate situation before they reply. And the response from a team member automatically gets a second level of approval before it goes live.  

Having another pair of eyes on a post gives you that extra level of assurance in protecting your reputation on social. We like to think of it as a safeguard that sensitive issues are dealt with, well, sensitively – it’s about bringing that human touch and giving customers the very best service. 

Getting involved 

But what’s the most significant way a business can protect its reputation? 

Ultimately, it’s a long game. A good reputation can take years to build. And to earn the respect, love and trust of consumers takes hard work, consistency and dedication.  

Being engaged, receptive and responsive on social media is an important part of that process. It shows people your business cares about the people it serves. We’d go as far to say it’s the number one thing a company can do today to maintain its reputation. 


It just takes one poorly thought tweet to destroy your public image. So it’s crucial you have failsafe measures in place that protect your reputation. It’s an insurance policy for your good name – and in business, that’s priceless.  

Then you can move onto the next stage: enhancing your reputation with social media. Check out more in our quick guide.

Reputation management is just one of the areas we help our clients with. Find out more about how to successfully adopt social media across your organisation in our free guide.