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Responding within 8 hours of a crisis significantly affects its impact

17 January, 2013


Ogilvy PR China and CIC team up again to launch “2012 Crisis Management in the Microblog Era” white paper

SHANGHAI — CIC and Ogilvy Public Relations, China have teamed up again to jointly launch the white paper, “2012 Crisis Management in the Microblog Era,” which analyzed 50 Chinese brand crises in 2012 – concluding that brands which respond within the first 8 hours of a crisis’ outbreak are more effective at controlling it, shortening its duration and lowering the overall level of negative buzz. The report also ranks China’s top 10 crises in the public credibility, personal and brand categories in 2012.

According to this year’s ranking, eight out of the top 10 crises on microblogs and in traditional media were the same. In the public credibility category, more than half of the crises were related to public officials as microblogs now play a role of ever-growing importance in tackling corruption due to its openness, efficiency and convenience in communications. According to the top 10 personal crises ranking, Weibo, or Chinese microblogs, is a two-sided coin that can amplify personal influence or destroy an individual’s reputation and affiliated organization. Eight out of the 10 brand crises were food safety related as Chinese netizens continue to lack confidence in the state of China’s food safety, rendering this an extremely sensitive topic. A single brand’s crisis can easily affect its entire industry. With negative news able to spread at such high speed on microblogs, brand crises can now escalate faster than ever before.

Debby Cheung, President of Ogilvy & Mather Group, Shanghai and Managing Director of Ogilvy PR, China, said, “Knowledge and preparation in online crisis management are necessary for corporate communications departments in the microblog era. It became clear in 2012 that microblogs are now the main platform for disseminating news and guiding public opinion. How far a crisis spread and how long it lingered on microblogs determined the crisis’ severity. If the news isn’t on Chinese microblogs, then it hasn’t reached crisis level yet.”

Key Findings
The “2012 Crisis Management in the Microblog Era” white paper is a statistical analysis of 50 Chinese brand crises from 2012, based on an evaluation of each crisis according to key elements of crisis management in the microblog era. The key takeaways are as follow:

The shorter the response time, the better
If a brand responds within 8 hours, the crisis duration and negative buzz will be the lowest. Responding within 24 hours will shorten the crisis duration and minimize negative influence. If the first response time is more than 24 hours after a crisis outbreak, then there will be an obvious extension of the crisis duration. It is crucial to have a crisis management system in place ahead of the crisis and prepare for different scenarios to respond effectively and efficiently to curb the spread of negative buzz at the outbreak of a crisis.

It works best when senior executives respond directly
When the suitability of the response tone increases by 1 percent, the proportion of negative buzz decreases by 0.5 percent. A direct response from high level executives is more effective than a response from low level employees. Now that microblogs have become a major communications platform for corporate spokespeople, relevant trainings need to be offered to them. A company’s crisis management system should be standardized and apply to all staff to prevent individual employee misconduct at the time of a crisis response and avoid causing more harm.

Using an official microblog account can help manage a crisis
Brands that had active official microblog accounts before the crisis were able to reduce the response time by around 12 hours, decrease the crisis duration by an average of 2 days and reduce the proportion of negative buzz. Brands should set up an official microblog account as early as possible, and integrate all of their owned social media resources into their crisis management systems, as a quick and effective response requires a nimble and local structure.

CIC CEO Daisy Zhang, said, “In 2012, crises in the microblog era contained similar trends as those in 2011, including the communication speed, channels, tones, and feedback, while new characteristics have also emerged. We chose 50 brand crises based on how much buzz it created on microblogs as trending topics and conducted an inductive analysis of them. We hope the business implications offered in this report will help companies to better manage crises on microblogs with flexibility.”

For more information, please contact:
Wendy Fung
Corporate Communications
Ogilvy & Mather Group China  

Chander Guo
86-21-5237 3860 ext. 8891

Ogilvy Public Relations
Ogilvy Public Relations (Ogilvy PR) is a global, multi-disciplinary communications leader operating in more than 80 offices across six continents. In 2011, Ogilvy won more Cannes PR Lions than any other agency worldwide, was named Global Digital/Social Consultancy of the Year by the Holmes Report, won Specialist Agency of the Year in Asia Pacific (Campaign Asia), and won the WPP global, top award (WPPed Cream, Crème de la Crème) for the fourth time in five years. Ogilvy PR integrates deeply with all Ogilvy & Mather disciplines (advertising, direct marketing, activation, promotional, digital and entertainment) through the proprietary Ogilvy Fusion™ approach to delivering comprehensive, business solutions through content creation, community building, and communications with measurable results. Ogilvy PR is a unit of Ogilvy & Mather, a WPP company (NASDAQ: WPPGY), one of the world's largest communications services groups. For more information, visit our Web site at or follow us on Twitter @ogilvypr.

CIC is China's leading social business intelligence provider, enabling enterprise to fully leverage the power of social media and Internet Word of Mouth (IWOM) intelligence across the organization. Since 2004, CIC has pioneered IWOMized technology, research and consulting. Firstly, by coining the term IWOM and then being the first to raise the concept of “social business” in China. As the industry thought leader, we have always been at the forefront of China’s internet and social business revolution.CIC is China’s largest integrated 3rd party provider of technical IWOM solutions, social media studies and social business intelligence. In order to help companies effectively leverage this social business intelligence, CIC provides customized research, consulting services, syndicated reports, and industry trend watches, rich in actionable insight. In addition to helping brands accomplish their social business aims, CIC is also monetizing the social business industry in China, creating an integrated social business support system (IWOMmaster), powered by our proprietary technical solutions and platforms.Recent acquisition by WPP's Kantar Media, the media research and insight division of Kantar, has strengthened CIC’s position and is a step towards expansion of its social offering across Asia Pacific. CIC will continue to provide social business intelligence from an objective, third-party perspective, to the world's leading brands and agencies. Other language services are now available through the Kantar network. For more information please visit

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