Crisis Communication in the Digital Age


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Presentation to the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) February 2012

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Crisis Communication in the Digital Age

  1. 1. Crisis Communication in the Digital Age 18 February 2011
  2. 2. Jane Jordan-Meier• President of Jane Jordan & Associates• Co-founder of Media Skills, international media training consultancy• Author of “The Four Highly Effective Stages of Crisis Management: How to Manage the Media in a Crisis” (March, 2011)• Pioneered four-stage approach to crisis management adopted in Australia, New Zealand and North America The Digital Age
  3. 3. Overview: Digital Mediameets Crisis Communication• Social Media, the “new normal” for crisiscommunication• Plans flawed, incomplete without socialmedia• Media follow predictable patterns in acrisis• Top Dog not always best•Trust is the “new black”• Plan with “end in mind” The Digital Age
  4. 4. What is a Crisis?• A show-stopping, people-stopping, event-stopping, country-stopping event• Media spotlight is firmly on you, your brand, your response• Significant business interruption• Single moment in time• ALL crises have TRIGGERING events
  5. 5. What Can We Learn?
  6. 6. Why Crisis Communication has changed forever The Digital Age
  7. 7. The New Normal• Lightning fast, 24X7, no deadlines• People rally on-line in a crisis• Disaster information is one of most highly forwarded or retweeted info• Everyone a spokesperson – power of citizen journalist, power of one to power of many• Web – more credibility• Direct communication (Qld Police)• Searching & monitoring more powerful than ever
  8. 8. Predictable Patterns in Reporting• Technology may have redefined media landscape, but patterns still apparent• “Last big thing, next big thing” – ST Factor, Context• News coverage of a crisis follows specific narratives; expect “certain narratives to appear at certain times.”
  9. 9. The Stages of a CrisisFact FindingDrama UnfoldingBlame/Finger PointingFallout/Resolution
  10. 10. Stage One:“What”• First news most breaks on social media, particularly Twitter & YouTube – New police scanner – New “vox pops” – “There is news, there is insight and then there is Twitter. It’s my feed to the second by second pulse of life” (Guardian reporter) • Need Twitter templates, plan in place - Test in training/drills • Monitor all relevant consumer generated media, not just traditional media • Establish # (hash tag) Must Respond within first “golden” hour
  11. 11. Stage Two: “How”Focus on “victim” and responseSave Dave Campaign GoesGlobal as Macquarie Investigates Set-Up• Facebook comes into play, viral• Dirt digging, back-fill• Crowdsourcing• Compare and contrastWhat’s your back-story? “Skeletons” will be revealed
  12. 12. A client advisor, a model and a bank!• David Kiely, Macquarie Bank ogles supermodel Miranda Kerr during live cross to bank trading room• Kiely, Kerr and Macquarie Bank become Internet sensations - 13.7 million hits on “Lord” Google, - YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, MSM - London-based Here Is The City campaigns for Dave• “Hopefully Mac Bank will see this for what it is - trivial. And think about all that free publicity!”• “I used to work with Dave, and he is definitely a good bloke. The pics were harmless, and Mac Bank should stand by him”• “Im not a banker, but I have joined the campaign regardless. The guy doesnt deserve to be dismissed!”
  13. 13. Stage Three Blame/Finger Pointing: “Why?”• Blame, “told-you so” game• Looking for scapegoats• Ridicule in cartoons• Avoid airing dirty-laundry in public• Highlight quick winsIf you speak now, prepare for battle!
  14. 14. Too Slow• Two rogue employees do really nasty things to food and post video to YouTube – airs Monday• By Tuesday morning – 30,000 hits• Dominos “unconcerned” – “not on CNN, ABC or USA Today”!!• By Tuesday night – 700,000 views, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, FOX News• By late Wed afternoon – viewed nearly a million times• Twitterville active – inc Ryan Seacrest (host of American Idol)• Google search on Dominos web site reveals link to vile video• 4PM Wednesday – Dominos release video to You Tube with message from President Patrick Doyle
  15. 15. Stage Four: Resolution• Concluding events – Funerals, Reports, Commissions of Enquiry -• Highlight how peoples have been affected/changed• Highlight Lessons Learnt• People expect solutions/resolutions Mark the end!
  16. 16. Stage Four Fallout“Employers brace for wave of copycat sexual harassment claims” “ “
  17. 17. Poll
  18. 18. The Good •Bligh struck the right note of grimdetermination, tinged with emotion.Gillard made right moves being in allthe right places, but was often off-keywooden.
  19. 19. The Bad"We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused theirlives. There’s no one who wants this over more than I do.I would like my life back."
  20. 20. Downright Ugly Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at -via Twitter for BlackBerry®Kenneth Cole
  21. 21. Spokespeople in a Crisis• Credibility is CRITICAL• Crisis is defining moment• Biggest test of a company’s values• Is the CEO capable of connecting with stakeholders in a compelling, compassionate manner?• Go for the person that is most credible, most believable, most authentic• Will they pass the grace under fire test?
  22. 22. The “Kat” Fight• April 2010: Greenpeace creates video parody of Kit Kat: posts to YouTube goes viral• 4 days reaches ½ million, boosted by “naivety” on Nestle Facebook page: - “Thanks for the lesson in manners. Consider yourself embraced. But it’s our page, we set the rules, it was ever thus.” Later apologised• Inevitable MSM headlines: – “Greenpeace and Nestle in a Kat Fight”• Lessons: – Expect coordinated attacks IF you behave badly or are perceived to have behaved badly – Poor tone begets poor tone - if you are rude then expect rudeness back – SM is time consuming, challenging if you want to make it work & remain engaged Live for the best but plan for the worst
  23. 23. Company as Publisher “We became the media”Situation:• March 2009. Wet, floods, roads closed. Other main hospital evacuated. A state of emergency. Panic for many.• Media isolated.Solution:• Working remotely with agency, Innovis became the media• Newsworthy, fact-finding blog• At 5:15 p.m., the blog went live, and by 5:30 p.m., 1,500 media outlets were monitoring Innovis• Used Twitter to “push” out info, link to blog• 10-day, 24/7 effort with NO PERSONAL CONTACT – all email
  24. 24. The Media Circus of Life: the new normalNews breaks on Twitter entertainment & gossipsites broadcast news cite secondary sources in print & on magazine covers collector’s copy“Dichotomy” of news – “dead” on-line, “alive” inmainstream media
  25. 25. Hashtags are critical: Qld FloodsTrending around globe• #bnefloods, #thebigwet #Qldfloods• Used effectively by Qld police - “want more social media” Sysomos MAP shows where in the in world people tweeted about the• Tweeting peaks coincided floods with flood peaks = vital news source The Digital Age
  26. 26. Hashtag Rules• Compact• Simple & easy to understand – #CITYcondition – by partners• Low character count• Organic - #qldfloods• Test BEFORE crisis
  27. 27. Plan• Let values guide you• Strategy extremely important• Must have “end game” - what does “winning” look like?• Clear policy statements• Rehearsed, tested, validated
  28. 28. Plan for• Low levels of retention in crisis - “they are only ten”• People default to type - search for meaning• “Gossip,” inaccuracies• Unofficial spokespeople• Multiple sources• What to do IF CEO fuels the fire?
  29. 29. Media in a Crisis “Watchdogs for democracy” Hyper-critical, skeptical Point out flaws in order to “protect society” Act like a form of “first-aid” - normally unacceptableDriven to “seek the truth,” particularly if they sniff a sordidallegation, a wrongdoing, or illegal or unethical behaviour Likely to side with the victim than with big business
  30. 30. So What?• Use the Stages to Plan - choose spokespeople - create messages including hashtags - choose partners (internal & external) - exercise/rehearse/drill/training - listening/monitoring (drives info in a crisis) - determine policy - determine response
  31. 31. Final Thoughts“What happens in Vegas stays on Google” Scott Monty, social media guru, Ford“Internet is written in ink not pencil”Mark Zuckerberg’s girlfriend in movie “The Social Network
  32. 32. Jane (Twitter)“The Four Highly Effective Stages of CrisisManagement: How to Manage the Media in theDigital Age” published by CRC Press, 21 March Thank You! Do connect.Launches in Australia in late April/early MayContributor to Craig Pearce’s upcoming ebook
  33. 33. Webinar Rob Vass:Strategic use of the Live Event Friday 4 March 12:00 pm AEDT The Digital Age
  34. 34. NSW Workshop Show me the money! Kathryn WilliamsWednesday 23 February 2011 9:00 am – 5:00 pm The Digital Age
  35. 35. FeedbackPlease send us yourfeedback and makesuggestions for futurewebinar topics