Communication Matters - our blog on trends and events


Speed Kills

In coverage on the raid in which U.S. forces killed Osama Bin Laden, did you notice how much attention media paid to the fact that the entire world seemed to be talking about this on Twitter?

It is not as if social media are new. So why does this seem to be such a novelty still to media?

The answer is that social media are not a novelty to the news media. Social media are really just an easy source for the news media. And that can be a problem for any corporation or executive who suddenly find themselves in the news.

Here is what I mean. It is axiomatic in the news industry that whenever anything happens that affects or could affect large numbers of people, the media will want reactions from people.

But mainstream media no longer have to spend time calling people at home or executives at work, or stopping people in the street to ask their reaction to breaking news. All they have to do now is check Twitter and other social networks and blogs.

So the mainstream media will never stop reporting on what is being said in the blogosphere and on social networks.  Every reaction they want about a breaking story, is right there, right away.

At the same time news media will report on what is being said in social media about the persons, celebrities, executives, corporations or organizations involved in breaking news, the social media will report on what is being said in the news media. Back and forth it goes. All as if it were news.

Here is what this means for you, should you face a crisis, emergency or issue.

You’re going to be amazed by how fast the mainstream media and social media report on what each is saying about you. The speed with which these reports occur now is instantaneous.

And together, mainstream media and social media perpetuate the story. But even more so, they will also perpetuate any inaccuracies and opinions as if these are the facts.

Think about how fast the clash of a cold and warm front can produce a tornado, because that is what we’re seeing now with the confluence of mainstream and social media on breaking news.

So the speed with which both news and social media report out about your crisis, and what each other is saying about you, can threaten to kill your reputation.

The speed with which you attack a crisis now must also be instantaneous, and if it is, then you can swiftly kill most any threat to your reputation from mainstream and social media reports.

Success depends on how fast you move.  In fact, how fast you respond to a crisis is now as important as what you actually say in that initial response.

If you don’t respond quickly, everyone who is important to you may draw conclusions about your company based on what many others are saying. And it may all be wrong. But if you do respond quickly, you can drive what is said about you in the mainstream and social media.

Kill or be killed. It is all up to speed.

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