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Playbook for Incident Response to Misinformation Against the Organization

The spread of misinformation can seriously threaten your organization's reputation. This playbook provides a roadmap to navigate such a crisis.

Preparation is key. Proactively monitor online platforms for potential sources of misinformation and establish relationships with media outlets for accurate reporting. Form a Rapid Response Team (RRT) with clear roles and communication protocols. Develop pre-approved messaging templates and identify communication channels for swift and transparent responses.

During a crisis, the RRT takes charge. They assess the situation, issue timely public statements addressing the misinformation, and engage with the media to set the record straight. If possible, they identify the source and report violations to social media platforms. They partner with fact-checkers and issue corrections if necessary.

Following the crisis, a post-mortem analysis with the RRT will be conducted to identify areas for improvement. Refine messaging templates and enhance your monitoring system. Proactively manage your online reputation and rebuild trust with stakeholders through clear communication. Following these steps can effectively combat misinformation and safeguard your organization's image.
Moh Heng Goh
Crisis Management Certified Planner-Specialist-Expert

Action Steps for Threats Against Misinformation Against the Organization

Description of Crisis

This playbook outlines a comprehensive approach for managing and mitigating the spread of misinformation targeting your organization.

New call-to-actionScenario: The spread of a series of misinformation seriously threatens your organization's reputation

 

Action Steps for Pre-Crisis

Before the crisis, proactively monitor online platforms for potential sources of misinformation and establish relationships with media outlets for accurate reporting. Form a Rapid Response Team (RRT) with clear roles and communication protocols. Develop pre-approved messaging templates and identify communication channels for swift and transparent responses.

Proactive Monitoring
Identify Potential Sources
  • Establish a system for monitoring online platforms and social media to identify potential sources of misinformation.
  • Track trends and discussions surrounding your organization and industry to anticipate potential attacks.
Build Relationships
  • Develop positive relationships with key media outlets and journalists to facilitate accurate reporting during a crisis.
  • Consider creating a media contact list for accessible communication during an incident.
Rapid Response Team (RRT)
Form a Dedicated Team

1.  Establish a Rapid Response Team (RRT) comprised of representatives from:

  • Public Relations/Communications
  • Legal Department
  • IT/Security (to monitor online activity and identify potential sources)
Define Roles and Responsibilities
  • Develop a clear plan outlining roles and responsibilities for each RRT member during a misinformation campaign.
  • This includes assigning a spokesperson and outlining communication protocols.
Develop Communication Plan
Craft Clear Messaging
  • Prepare pre-approved messaging templates to address potential misinformation narratives.
  • Ensure messages are clear, concise, and based on factual evidence.
Identify Communication Channels
  • Define the communication channels to be used during a crisis (e.g., website, social media, press releases).
  • Consider establishing a dedicated webpage or social media thread for updates regarding the misinformation campaign.

Action Steps for During-Crisis

During the crisis, the RRT takes charge. They assess the situation, issue timely public statements addressing the misinformation, and engage with the media to set the record straight. They identify the source and report violations to social media platforms if possible. They partner with fact-checkers and issue corrections if necessary.

Rapid Detection and Assessment
Monitor Activity
  • Closely monitor online activity to identify the specific misinformation being spread and its potential reach.
Assess Impact
  • Evaluate the potential impact of the misinformation on your organization's reputation, brand image, and stakeholder trust.
Activate RRT
Convene the Team
  • Immediately assemble the RRT to initiate a coordinated response based on the pre-defined plan.
Communication and Transparency
Issue Public Statement
  • Issue a timely public statement acknowledging the misinformation and providing factual information to counter it.
  • Utilize pre-approved messaging templates to ensure consistency and clarity.
Engage with Media
  • Proactively engage with media outlets to provide accurate information and respond to journalist inquiries.
Identify and Address Source (if possible)
Gather Evidence
  • If possible, work with your IT/Security team to identify the source of the misinformation campaign.
  • Gather and preserve evidence for potential legal action.
Report Violations
  • Report the misinformation campaign to the relevant social media platforms and request removal.
Fact-Checking and Correction
Partner with Fact-Checkers
  • Collaborate with reputable fact-checking organizations to debunk the misinformation and provide accurate information.
Issue Corrections
  • If your organization has inadvertently shared any misinformation, issue a prompt and transparent correction.

Action Steps for Post-Crisis

Following the crisis, a post-mortem analysis with the RRT will be conducted to identify areas for improvement. Refine messaging templates and enhance your monitoring system. Proactively manage your online reputation and rebuild trust with stakeholders through clear communication.

RRT Post-Mortem
Conduct Debriefing
  • Once the immediate crisis has subsided, convene the Rapid Response Team (RRT) for a comprehensive debriefing session.
  • Discuss the misinformation campaign, the team's response, and its effectiveness in mitigating the damage.
Evaluate Response

1.  Analyze the communication strategy, public statements, and engagement with media.
2.  Consider questions like:

  • Did the messaging effectively counter the misinformation?
  • Were all communication channels utilized effectively?
  • Was the response timely and transparent?
Identify Lessons Learned
  • Based on the debriefing, identify key learnings and areas for improvement in future responses to misinformation campaigns.
  • This may involve revising communication protocols, refining roles within the RRT, or enhancing training on misinformation tactics.
Strengthen Communication Strategy
Refine Messaging
  • Review and refine pre-approved messaging templates based on the specific misinformation encountered.
  • Ensure messaging remains clear and concise and addresses potential future attacks.
Enhance Monitoring
  • Evaluate your system for monitoring online activity.
  • Consider incorporating new tools or expanding your monitoring scope to identify potential threats earlier.
Reputation Management
Monitor Online Sentiment
  • Continue to monitor online platforms and social media for any lingering mentions of the misinformation campaign.
  • Track public sentiment and address any concerns or questions from stakeholders.
Proactive Communications
  • Maintain proactive communication with key stakeholders, including employees, customers, and partners.
  • Share updates on your efforts to address the misinformation and rebuild trust.
  • Consider hosting Q&A sessions or issuing follow-up statements to address lingering concerns.

Summing Up ...

New call-to-actionBy following these detailed steps, organizations can effectively prepare for, respond to, and recover from a misinformation campaign targeting their reputation.  

Proactive monitoring, a well-coordinated response team, and clear communication are crucial for mitigating the impact of misinformation and protecting your organization's image.

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Reference Guide

A Manager’s Guide to Implementing Your Crisis Management PlanGoh, M. H. (2016). A Manager’s Guide to Implement Your Crisis Management Plan. Business Continuity Management Specialist Series (1st ed., p. 192). Singapore: GMH Pte Ltd.

 

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