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How Feminism and Gender Issues Facing Organizations Are Addressed in Online Pr

Nyamweya is a Kenyan scholar who has done many years of research on a diversity of topics

Recent decades have seen an influx of women into various professional fields yet gender disparities remain a disconcerting reality. Men and women alike have used the digital space to confront these disparities and propose concrete strategies to achieve greater equality among the genders. Digitization and the shift to the metaverse have forced organizations to reestablish their business functions. An increase in digital interaction and the time people spend online has brought consequences to business communication. Events, news, and development about an organization spread with a snowball effect in that once it lands on suspicious grounds it is amplified to a greater magnitude and at a high speed. These negative events can easily gain traction in the public sphere and turn into a PR Crisis. A PR crisis can be related to sexual discrimination, the salary gap between male and female employees, the glass ceiling, limited opportunities for women leadership, and gender-related issues that can taint the organization in the minds of people. Gender inequalities remain a particular concern in public relations.

There are strategies that the organization can implement to prepare for or prevent for PR crisis but even the best preparation can only go so far. Once negative information is out there, the organization is left to roll with the punches and do its best to control the outcome. The digital space has many benefits as it has many risks to it. The media environment is rapidly changing and the individually fragmented use imposes unpredictable change that demands fast and accurate information. Due to this uncertainty, a well-functioning risk and crisis communication and response framework is needed. As a result, organizations must adapt to the winds of change by investing in online PR. Online PR can turn the negative effects of a crisis into strength and leverage for the organization. This response framework should be cognizant of the weight of the matter when crafting an appropriate comeback.

First, the growing popularity of the media environment means a small issue can instantly go viral. In this digital age, crises are no longer restricted to corporate scandals or natural disasters, a single post by an employee or customers can turn into a crisis. This is in addition to fake news, cyber attacks, defamatory rumors, and hackers. However, before the organization panics, not all events are a full-blown crisis. Reacting too strongly or too casually can be a subject of reputation damage. Categorizing the issues through social media listening can help the organization discern those issues that can turn into a PR crisis and those that cannot. Critical questions to ask include; how the event will affect the bottom line, whether the reputation will be damaged to the stakeholders and how the event will affect the organization’s workflow. The issue can be categorized as green, orange or red. Green is for events that do not require immediate action though there is a chance they will affect the organization. The green situation should be closely monitored and a response sent when needed. Orange is for events that could possibly harm the brand and destroy customer trust. These include one negative comment among hundreds of positive ones, they should be monitored closely. Red is for events when the organization must react decisively and fast. Red situations could damage the reputation, and disrupt supply chains and the bottom line. However, in the digital space situations could escalate from green to orange to red really fast so it is essential to constantly monitor the situation.

Secondly, after the situation has been categorized, a swift response is key. The time between when the events and when your response is thus extremely crucial. The sooner an organization responds the greater the chance it will control the narrative and control any damage. The first thing to do is send out a generic statement to give the impression that the issue is under control and a more detailed explanation will follow. The best social media channels that will work for the organization and its customers or stakeholders should be used. Consequently, a holistic response team made of different members of the organization should be put together to work on the message the organization will send out and manage press releases. Every crisis requires a different approach and reaction to it. Thus the response team should assess the PR crisis and choose the most appropriate response. The first released statement will hold and buy the organization time to come up with the final plan of action but this should not take too long. The final message for starters should be honest. Shifting the blame, omitting details or denying will only increase the damage and further cause mistrust within the public. Owning up to the mistake or error can humanize the organization and minimize the damage. Aside from that, the organization should partner with top influencers and public figures to vouch for it during and after the PR crisis. Once the dust settles, the organization must evaluate the performance of the crisis management team and plan. The analysis should reveal what went well and what did not, what areas the team can improve on, the effectiveness of the distribution channels, and other insights to enable the organization to respond better to crises in the future.

Feminism and gender issues such as intimidation, discrimination, workplace corruption, negligence, abuse, deception, and poor customer treatment require a swift and well-planned response. Given the amount of public attention and scrutiny they attract, the response has to be multi-channel; on social media platforms, website, broadcast, and print. Competitors and partners can also tarnish the organization’s reputation by association. The solution for this is intelligence where you monitor the channels of your partners and competitors as you do your own organizations. Once, you sniff a looming crisis, put out a statement to distance yourself and protect the organization from the potential crisis. The social media space is unrelenting and unforgiving to organizations that are dishonest, oppressive, discriminatory, abusive, or corrupt in their operations. The new millennium has intense demands on matters of fairness and how the organizations treat them. Organizations can sow seeds of discrimination and inequality in their daily operations through significant ethical lapses in management affecting the relationship it has with their community.

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