Crisis Management: Somebody is watching you: what are you doing/saying?: Social Media
Somebody is watching you! Countless somebodies are watching your business: news media, bloggers, employees, competitors, opponents, supporters and more. And you best be alert, was the implicit warning from media, social media, and PR professionals at a conference. “People are tracking you and you don’t even know it,” said one. Sure, most online information is rather low-threat and perhaps involves gripes attached to news articles or blogs. But there is no escaping the Internet microscope, and one misstep, misunderstanding, or miscommunication could light an online fire flashing through all media and readable worldwide.
Panelists at the NC Chamber conference on media relations and crisis communications said everyone, and especially they, are “looking at what (people) are saying” on social media. News media reps said they’re particularly glad to have social media looking over the shoulders of organizations. John Clark, former wral.com chief and currently at UNC, said, “We used to wait until someone would tell us something to follow up on with our reporters. Now Twitter and Facebook are telling us information all the time, and we are paying attention to all of it. It is a source. It sends us down a road and we can start asking questions. There are a lot of people talking.” An example given: UNC’s football controversy. It began with players talking casually on social media and a reporter noticing it.
Furthermore, media can leverage online resources to expand their news delivery mechanisms beyond the traditional broadcast and print and simultaneously increase their audience – critical as traditional audiences shrink. WTVD-TV news director Rob Elmore said, “We want to own the story.” He said his station broke the news that Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff had been attacked in a NC federal prison and posted it online. Elmore said the Madoff posting achieved one million page views the first day.
Obviously, social media information flows both ways which makes it a doubled edged sword for companies, institutions, and PR firms to wield to their advantage. Some retain online monitoring companies like Radian6 whose “social strategist” Jeffrey Cohen said tracks 150 million sources. Radian6 says it helps businesses “listen, discover, measure and engage in conversations across the social web.” Cohen said some big businesses do their own monitoring. He described a computer giant ordering the creation of its own social media command center. He said as many as 42 people have operated it.
Although most of you run smaller businesses without resources for vast monitoring, you can still set up your own Google and Twitter searches and track public comments on Facebook and websites. At least search for mentions of the company name, your name, and the CEO’s name. It doesn’t require much but it does demand that you pay attention to the whirl of the social media world. If you can get a jump on troubling talk about you, you can react faster and, hopefully, more persuasively to protect your reputation.
You simply must monitor social media, prepare to go fast when bad news threatens, and be able to engage online as well as in traditional media.
And how fast is fast? WTVD’s Elmore said he rarely holds a legitimate news item until broadcast time, and posts it online as quickly as possible. Another journalist said there are no deadlines anymore. He wants your information now!