The Internet and Crisis
Prof David Phillips FCIPR FSCR
Last updated 29 October 2013
Is the Internet Important to PR
Almost instant data spike
Very fast moving
Aggregates all other activities
Spreads every detail to all media and the
population at large.
Fortunately verification is not always good
enough in the first few minutes.
Unfortunately, verification tools are becoming very
Yes – it happens to the best of us
“I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama
Bin Laden.” Keith Urban at 03:24 – not The White
In "Social Business Readiness: How Advanced
Companies Prepare Internally," Altimeter Group analyzed
50 social media crises that have occurred since 2001.
He was not the first reporter. Shortly after 4pm EST on
1 May Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual on Twitter) was
live-tweeting a series of helicopter flypasts and
explosions and was unwittingly covering the US forces
raid on Osama Bin Laden‟s compound. Meanwhile
somewhere in the vicinity @m0hcin was reporting too.
They found that those reaching mainstream media have
risen steadily through the past decade, with just 1-2
incidents per year in the first five years and a total of 10
social media crises last year alone.
The report also sheds light on exactly how social media
crises arise and how companies can avoid them.
But – what is a crisis online
All plans/activities have expected outcomes, financial budgets and timescales. These are
often identified using aids for project planning. Monitoring such plans will identify where plans
are going awry. This is normal day to day management. We all do it.
There are some variations that are identifiable and understood that the PR team cannot be
sure will occur or when. They can be planned for and are part of management. Like coping
with unexpected staff illness – managers cope.
This kind of event cannot be identified during project planning. Or during risk management
planning. There is no Plan B. Good management has crisis management planning in place to
mitigate effects (this is what today is about – good management.
It is a departure from a norm and can mostly be managed.
Sometimes referred to as “unk-unks,” they make people nervous because existing decision
tools are not available. It is possible to push unk unks further away with good crisis
management tools in place.
What does this entail
Know what is „normal‟
Have measures in place to be able to identify variation
Be sure that variation can be managed by a wide
Foreseen uncertainty circumstances are identified by
looking at historic variation – are there generic foreseen
circumstances (e.g. staff illness, transport strike etc) did
we manage it well, how can we manage it better. Train
people to recognise and manage
Unforeseen Uncertainty requires having crisis
management tools in place (monitoring, evaluation,
reporting and information dissemination, multi location/time
zone responses etc.
Need for impact analysis
The building blocks
Every management reporting process is helpful.
Mostly management reports do not have much
out of the ordinary (much as we would like to
We look for variance.
There are tools to help
Public Relations practitioners are allowed to use
Big Data tools too!
Watching the normal using LSI
Wednesday 28 July
Tuesday 23 February 2010
Tuesday 24 November
•real exchange rate
•net trade position
•central bank governors
•bank balance sheets
•petrol price inflation
•short time horizon
•price level effects
Simple semantic analysis picks out themes, normality and
variance. The very grist to the mill of rumour, conjecture and
potential uncertainty. A good PR tool, for issues management.
Network theory is important online
Who is linked to whom
What is linked to what and who and how
+davidghphillips #BoE, @RobElder etc
Who and what is changing
News Monitoring/tone is now automated
Its the news (an RSS feed on your phone)
Internet monitoring is a bit more difficult
Big Data monitoring is essential
But it is very creepy
Influence networks real people in G+
Every thing you do
or say is
and followers and
their networks too
So too for
What is changing and how to find out
From the perspective of population
From the perspective of the Governor
Tag the concepts
To what extent
Is this item relevant
To what extent are there new semantic concepts
Do they need to be managed
Monitoring search profiles – the
perspective of the population
What is a „normal‟ profile
bank of england bank rate
what is the current bank of england …
bank of england current interest rate
bank of england base rates
interests rates uk
current bank of england interest rate
bank of england rate
boe interest rate
bank of england interest rate…
interest rate bank of england
bank of england base rate
interest rates bank of england
bank of england interest rates
bank of england interest rate
• If it changes, its a crisis
Source: Google Analytics
Facebook connections – it‟s who they
know that counts
Profile on Twitter
In 48 minutes 450 tweets collected, 157 of these tweets form connected components. From this, on the map
we can see 3 large communities of Twitter users, joined by multiple smaller ones (Source: Keene
Robert Peston‟s influence on the
client in Twitter
Monitoring key influencers in different media is useful
Figure 4. Words, phrases, and topics most distinguishing subjects aged 13 to 18, 19 to 22, 23 to
29, and 30 to 65 in Facebook
Schwartz HA, Eichstaedt JC, Kern ML, Dziurzynski L, et al. (2013) Personality, Gender, and Age in the Language of Social Media:
The Open-Vocabulary Approach. PLoS ONE 8(9): e73791. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073791
Is important to know – and if it gets faster.....
How many media
There are Limits
Preparing for the day 1
Re-visit social media
Check all is up to date
Watch who else is contributing
Be ready to edit fast (e.g. Wikipedia)
Preparing for the day 2
An escalation plan
Important to react
Important not to over react
Fast internal monitoring
Fast external monitoring
Establishment of the facts
Testing the system
Narrowcast – broadcast
Is it „Robert Peston‟s‟ network or Robert Peston the
Is it a specific media (e.g. Twitter) or across social
media – knowing that it will cross media borders
Robert is on Radio, TV, Blogs, Twitter etc etc.
Have the information about him to hand?
Once you use a media you have to keep doing it.
If you don‟t you don‟t have a voice/credibility
If you do, it has to be part of the overall strategic
comms plan (content, monitoring, analysis ROI etc)
Supporting data (hyperlinks)
Images (get more attention)
Mix and match people
A method that allows you to say the same thing over and
again without looking like stonewalling
First response quick
Then keep up a series of contributions (e.g. Every hour)
Never stretch the truth – a million experts online will put
What the experts say
Identify risk events
Assess the probability of each event
Make a cost-benefit analysis of response alternatives
Choose a response
Re-assess probability and impact with company response
On-going monitoring of risk events
“Crisis is a process of transformation where the old system can no
longer be maintained.
1. unexpected (i.e., a surprise)
2. creates uncertainty
3. is seen as a threat to important goal system that can no longer be maintained."
Most “research does not consider the enormous influence a crisis has
on social media that further affects the relationship between social
media and the stock market.”
There are measurable differences in the way microblog messages
propagate. ...these differences relate to newsworthiness and credibility
of the information conveyed, and (there are) features that are effective
for classifying information automatically as credible or not credible.
Source: Venette, S. J. (2003). Risk communication in a High Reliability Organization: APHIS PPQ's inclusion of risk in decision making. Ann
Arbor, MI: UMI Proquest Information and Learning.
Source: Jiang, CuiQing, et al. "Analyzing market performance via social media: a case study of a banking industry crisis." Science China
Information Sciences (2013): 1-18.
Source: Carlos Castillo, Marcelo Mendoza, Barbara Poblete, (2013) "Predicting Information Credibility in Time-Sensitive Social
Media", Internet Research, Vol. 23 Iss: 5
Evidence of SocMed significance
Blogs and Social Media: “The New Word of Mouth
and its Impact on the Reputation of Banks and on
...Social media-based metrics (Web blogs and consumer
ratings) are significant leading indicators of firm equity
Companies, brands, politicians, governmental
institutions, and celebrities have increasingly been
facing the impact of negative online WOM and complaint
In reaction to any questionable statement or
activity, social media users can create huge waves of
outrage within just a few hours.
Source: Eleftheria (Roila) Christakou, George-Michael Klimis Handbook of Social Media Management Media Business and Innovation 2013, pp 715-735
Source: Luo, Xueming, J. Zhang, and W. Duan (2013), “Social Media and Firm Equity Value,” Information Systems Research, Forthcoming
Source: J. Pfeffera*, T. Zorbachb & K. M. Carleya (June 2013) Understanding online firestorms: Negative word-of-mouth dynamics in social media networks.
Journal of Marketing Communications
But what about Print media?
There is little division between online PR and traditional press
European Public Relations Education and Research Association
papers this year show that Media Relations is more productive when
conducted using social media (except via Facebook).
Online Circulations are up a lot.
NRS PADD Survey reports the Guardian now has 1.7 million
more monthly readers than the Telegraph, compared to May
when this figure was 1.6 million.
Guardian is the most-read news site in the UK with 10.4 million
readers, 523,000 more than the Mail Online (9.9 million).
Trade media as well as newspapers
You face issues
They will escalate to crisis
Not all crisis is the same
Possible to mitigate
Network theory semantic evaluation and related
data analysis are big allies
Not possible to respond across all media
A need to plan, prepare, train and test.
Good research available to aid decision making
Online and offline media are converging
A bit of brain storming
David Phillips FCIPR FSCR
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CIPR Crisis Diploma Reading List
Bland, M (1998) Communicating Out of a Crisis, London: Macmillan
Wolstenholme, S [ed.] (2009) The PR Digest, Harlow: Pearson Education & The
Regester, M & Larkin, J. (2008), Risk Issues and Crisis Management, Kogan
Page/CIPR, 4th ed
Seymour, M and Moore, S (2000) Effective Crisis Management: worldwide
principles and practice. London: Cassell
Barton, L., 2004. Crisis Management: Master the Skills to Prevent Disasters.
Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Olaniran, B.A. and Williams, D.E., 2001. Anticipatory Model of Crisis Management:
A Vigilant Response to Technological Crises. In: R.L. Heath, ed. 2001. Handbook
of Public Relations. California: Sage Publications Inc. Ch.41.
QUIRKE, Bill, Communicating Change, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1995
BLAND, Michael, When it hits the Fan, Centre Publishing Ltd 2004
Milenkovic, G., 2001. Early Warning of Organizational Crises: A Research Project
from the International Air Express Industry. Journal of Communication
Management, 5(4), pp.360-373.
Lee, J. Woeste, J.H. and Heath, R.L., 2007. Getting Ready for Crises: Strategic
Excellence. Public Relations Review, 33, pp.334-336.