Friday, August 24, 2012

.social media, crowdsourced news and your crisis comms posture

Today's shooting in the heart of New York City brought, once again, a perfect illustration of the changing landscape in how news are reported. More than ever, social media drives the "show".
In fact, news break on social media, legacy media pick it up ... add some elements (if they have any) and analysis (sometimes). That's the reality ...see link below ...

#ESB: On Social Media, Witnesses Describe Scene of Chaos

We had an interesting on what this means for media and emergency management agencies in today's #smemchat (every Friday at 12:30 pm eastern) .... Here's a tweet this discussion generated:

@saraestescohen Media relies on sensational, disturbing stories/pics 2 get attention. Attention is the currency @patricecloutier #smemchatOrg9  14:13web
The simple truth is that legacy media is now in direct competition with social media. They need to move fast to stay relevant and that means that the traditional media ethics are being put to the test. Editors have choices to make ... tough ones such as the ones made today.

Here's how it goes: a passer by uploads (gruesome) pictures of what he's just witnessed to a social network ... they go viral ... many media outlets run them (or others graphic in many cases) ...some don't ...deciding they're not in the public interest. You be the judge:

More on the journalistic debate about crowdsourced pictures ... and the New York Times' decision to run pretty graphic picture(s). 

So, some general observations/questions:

  • who's your primary audience in your crisis comms plan? the traditional media or all those who now get "plugged in" via the web and social networks? Do you really need to go through the media to get your message out when others are already talking about you on social networks? 
  • do you conduct routine social listening (or monitoring) to quickly pick out reputational threat and for operational purposes? When things happen, they can have direct and indirect effects on your activities ... knowledge is power ... intelligence allows for informed decisions in a crisis.
  • The lines between social media and traditional media will continue to blur as "crowdsourcing" news gathering will expand even more ... news will move at the speed of social networks ...will you ?
  • Do you have the procedures and delegation of authority in place to respond within minutes when incidents happen or reputational threats are discovered? 
  • Do you have your own ethical guidelines or policies in terms of what you can post, retweet or link to from your own accounts and website? If you do, are you prepared for the inevitable mistakes and infringements on those policies that are bound to happen?
These are just quick thoughts that came to mind today. I continue to be amazed by the pace of changes brought by the impact of mobile technologies and social networks. Stay tuned ...I'm sure we'll have plenty more fodder for comments in the very near future.