As Rupert Murdoch, ex-congressman Weiner, Johnson and Johnson and countless others now know, the media can be a difficult beast to tame. Its ever changing formats and rules can keep even the best PR counselors off balance.
Thomas Baekdal, the social media researcher from Scandinavia, has put together one of the best graphics of the changing media landscape. In a single graph, he shows the fall of mainstream news channels and rise of citizen journalism.
If you look at the year 1982 when Tylenol faced their crisis, they primarily had three big media channels to control: newspaper, TV and radio. Years later, as BP encountered crisis, the same big three channels represented less than 15% of the media landscape. The balance is now made up of a mix of online and social media venues – with more tools and less rules.
Thus, the question is presented: What strategies can a modern corporation use to successfully counter such negative output over the electronic media? The old prescription was simple:
- Vigorously Defend yourself
- Don’t comment
- Have your day in court
The new prescription is more complex and multidimensional. It can be boiled down to three key steps.
- Validate concern
- Show action
- Control the narrative
The key is to begin to master the tools of social media prior to needing them. If a press release or statement is the only tool in your response arsenal, you will be unprepared to control the narrative in a social media world. New tools for response include:
Twitter Feeds Info Videos Stand-by Statements Fact Sheets
Press Releases Personal Letters YouTube Video Blogging
Issue Web Site Tweeting Phone Scripts Special Events
Social Media Links E-Mail Messages White Papers B-Roll video
Testimonial Letters Sponsorships “Dark” Website 3rd Party Allies
Editorial Briefings Paid Advertising
Other techniques include hiring a social media research agency to “listen” in on online conversations to pick up on smoldering issues. Key words or topics can be flagged online on an hourly basis. Firms like ListenLogic and Radian6 can monitor hundreds of millions of sites, blogs, tweets and forums in real-time. Companies can receive reports on how the issue is tracking by month, day, hour or minute. This gives corporations the edge they need to stay ahead of the flow of information.
Whether promoting a brand or defending, the landscape has changed. It’s time to learn how to navigate it.
What new tools are you using?