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Crisis Management Used to be Easy

July 21st, 2011

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:

  1. Vigorously Defend yourself
  2. Don’t comment
  3. Have your day in court

The new prescription is more complex and multidimensional.  It can be boiled down to three key steps.

  1. Validate concern
  2. Show action
  3. 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?

Posted Under: Crisis Communications, Digital & Social Media
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