Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The end of the news cycle and the impact on crisis communications.

Abbottabad ...who would have thought a little piece of real estate near Pakistan's capital would be the centre of the world's attention?

Yes, that's where Usama Bin Laden met with a well deserved and violent death at the hands of US SOCOM troops. The news broke through Twitter first. A witness was surprised to see so much activity near the Al Queda compound: helicopters flying low, loud bangs and gunfire. What did he do? Call the authorities? (well, maybe he did) What he actually did was tweet about it.

And boy, did it ever snowball quickly. In fact, all sorts of records were set in regards to Twitter use. Usama over Michael Jackson's death and the royal wedding? Apparently so.

You know that the world has changed forever and that old news cycle are dead when the most powerful man in the world (that would be POTUS) has to schedule an impromptu news conference at the White House on a Sunday night at 11 p,m, because the news leaked out on social media a few hours earlier and is now being picked up by traditional media networks.

Gerald Baron's piece on that is pretty interesting.

To me, the ongoing need for constant social media monitoring by organizations (does anyone still doubt you need to monitor SM?) and the absolute necessity to have the ability to respond quickly (by having a sound crisis communications plan), mean that the very concept of crisis communications has evolved.

Again, let me cite Gerald Baron:

I believe that statement makes a lot of sense but I think that what is really happening is that the principles of sound crisis communications planning are now being applied more frequently on an ongoing basis: crisp, short messages that will actual convey the info you want conveyed, messages targeted at specific audiences, pre-identified channels to transmit these messages.

Some offer that the growing impact of social media and expectations from our audiences, have changed even the most fundamental principles of crisis communications. Again, I tend to agree with my friend Jim Garrow. In some ways, we are living through a revolutionary period in how people consume their information and how they PRODUCE information. Often that production will be about a company, a product or a response to an ongoing incident. Are accepted rules being left behind or set aside? Yes. This is scary but also offers a bit more flexibility in your response.

If you examine the current and ever-changing media environment, we quickly realize that it is now imperative for governments, NGOs, large corporations, in fact, any organization, to have the capability to implement its crisis communications plan at any time. We no longer have the luxury of waiting even one or two hours to issue a news release because we have to talk to the CEO or some other executive.

The only solution is to have clear procedures, people trained to apply them and pre-approved messages (message mapping) to get the ball rolling immediately after the first basic verification that an incident has occurred and could threaten your reputation, bottom line or even your very survival.

In a further post, Gerald positions that any organization needs to prioritize communications with 5 to 7 key stakeholders. But really, once  you have the ability to reach them because you have a crisis comms plan in place, you're really in a position to reach a much broader audience too.

Does that make sense?

Are all communicators becoming crisis communicators? Let me know!

1 comment:

  1. Right on the money, as usual, on this issue Patrice.
    Hopefully, more organizations will see the need to work through a crisis communications plan keeping the social media 'immediacy' in mind.