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Just social media crises, or crisis for social media as well?

twitter logo map 09

twitter logo map 09 (Photo credit: The Next Web)

If you are a student of social media, its pleasure and pain points – by now you would be well aware of the ‘attacks’ or ‘hacks’ on the twitter accounts of prominent brands like @burgerking and @jeep.

You can read about the @bugerking part of the story here  at @mashable

Online attacks of such nature are not completely surprising, given that the cyber world is getting to another place for brands to fight and fist it out. This is a world where every countries are resorting to cyber-warefare, so why blame the poor brands and their online army who try out the best to bring down competition. (Fact is, such attacks on brand online properties will only see an upswing now on).

Yet, what came as a huge surprise was 140-character powerhouse twitters statement after these attacks on the likes of @burgerking and @jeep.

In a statement published at twitter’s blog, users of the platform were advised on how to keep their passwords secure, and the kind of computers one should etc. You may see the statement here

Given the un-swerving loyalty of millions of users and thousands of brands across the globe to its platform, @twitter could have done well in also stating facts about how such attacks happen at the first place, and more than that, what preventive measures it plans to have in place to protect its users.

In addressing any crisis, it’s useful to caution the stakeholders and help such situations/incidents from recurring.

But, another cardinal rule in crisis management/communication is to be forthcoming & clear as to what went wrong in specific cases – a simple statement of facts and events leading to a crisis, and added to that assurance that incidents of similar nature will not recur.

It’s about being loud and clear that everything needed to protect the ‘information integrity’ of users will be done.

As of this moment, @twitter has missed the opportunity to win this battle post the hack of accounts like @burgerking and @jeep

Brands are all geared to watch for and handle social media crisis, and battle them. But the question also is what if social media platforms themselves become crisis-points?

Collaboration and co-creation… here’s how it’s happening.


JOURNALISTS (Photo credit: drinksmachine)

As a practitioner of public relations, you would agree that change is sweeping the way we operate, strategize and execute the plans for customers, both in the online (call it digital if that entices you!) and offline world as well.

The one word that can describe how we ought to change as communication professionals is collaborate and co-create. The ability to really do that in the communications business increases manifold, when one looks at the various audiences in the value circle and stakeholders, who have their interests and stake. Be it the client for whom the communication plan is strategized and executed, the journalists, the television newsroom, the social media – each of them are consumers of what you have to offer, and indeed look at how much value they derive from what you state and do.

Gone are the days when you sat in the corner room for communications, and kept churning out releases on all and sundry that you or your client thought was ‘news-worthy’ or ‘noise-worthy’.  Amongst other changes, the tectonic shift is occurring at the room and mind of the primary consumer of the communication plan – the journalist or columnist or blogger, as the case may be.

One such example I stumbled upon, and is worth enough illustrating the shift of world Jeff Vance.  Take a look at his online home and you will  see examples of how much value is created by a contemporary journalist, and how much value is sought – true and supreme examples of co-creation and collaboration.

His site features the stories intended, for which he sought inputs (PR pitches) – examples like “Is VMware’s cloud strategy viable?” and yet another story for CIO magazine. In these he even gives the timeline for the inputs and what the story angle was to be. All a good and ‘relevant’ hungry PR professional needed to do was to see how his clients or stakeholders can bring in a perspective to these stories. The site also serves to educate the PR community by inviting them for a Webinar, which was about “How to reach the press in the age or information overload?”

In essence, staying relevant and contemporary is more and more now about how you are willing to collaborate in a manner thing could add tremendous value in every step of the communication value chain – with journalists as the vital link. This is just one of the hundreds of examples that could be strewn out there in the online world. To amply illustrate to the PR community what is needed to reach the target audience in a better way, and thus stay relevant.

So, do you have more examples of co-creation and collaboration? Sharing them will make a difference to the world of PR.

Lets collaborate and co-create, more and more OR…. just perish.

Your PR guy with a magic wand?!

Does you PR advisor tell you this – come what may, we will make sure that we get your company covered in the media – in a nutshell, call it a “column cm guarantee”? Nothing can be far from a blatant lie, and honestly, PR never works that way in any part of the globe.

As a matter fact, if you have a long term PR/communication strategy for your company in mind, you must quietly stay away from such ‘column space coverage’ guarantors!

Look at the media (and the journalist fraternity) as end consumers of your content. They have their own creativity constraints – and it’s in a sense a battle between classy content, the most crucial advertisers (who walk away with a chunk of the col cms), and the editor who wields the wand as to what the reader must see and know!

The same analogy can be drawn to all kinds of media – print, television, online and so on. Add to this, the clutter of competition in your own industry – which is only increasing by the day!

In all this, if someone walks up to you and gives you as assurance of guaranteed coverage, it can be only if you are gullible enough to think that any of us in the PR business wield that influence.

The fact is, none of us, yes, NONE of us have that, and to some extent, it would be an insult to the independent thinking of the media if we imagine such a thing!

While we could be your company’s image advisors, we are just facilitators to friends in the media – sometimes involuntarily pushing information we perceive as useful, and at times offering a helping hand when sought. We are only catering to the content needs of the journalist fraternity, and this is in their own terms.

In all this, we also see how well we could position our client PR needs, and offer some expertise in creating media oriented content, which will be relevant and consumed!

Look at PR advisors as partners in your long term communication strategy execution plan. Not as someone who could just wave a magic wand and get you instant headlines in the next morning’s newspapers!

And by the way, such a magic wand never exists with any PR advisor!

How about some ‘information integrity’??!!

All our press releases

All our press releases (Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn)

What puts off journalist friends most, when you churn out information on behalf of a client, in the form of a press kit or a media release is this – factual errors.

Might sound so rudimentary, but as a matter of fact such errors creep in while we battle with deadlines, or with over-enthusiasm to send out the release so that we help the journo meet the deadline?

It’s the journalist’s responsibility to check the facts in any story – that said, if you are representing a client, you are the custodian of the facts mentioned in any media information that disseminates from your end.

Factual errors are not the big ones like the client concealing the facts or misrepresenting reality, in a crisis situation. Simple errors like getting the name of the person/product spelt wrong, getting the timeline of events wrong, or just spelling the CEO’s surname wrong – such errors come easily to the notice of the consumer – the reader of the viewer of the news, when and if it finally gets there.

And if it does, at stake is the credibility of the journalist, the media house, and your own client. In most cases, such mistakes creep in, in minor details which we tend to take for granted.

As a PR pro, make sure that the eye for detail is in play, every time, with every client. When you claim to manage reputation of clients, the least expected from you is to ensure information integrity.

To err in information is a big fail in the world of PR and reputation management!


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