When old media starts acting like new media–Orlando Sentinel

I noticed this post from a crisisblogger reader in Orlando who apparently attended one of my presentations about social media and crisis communication. In his post he provided an excellent example of how old media (newspaper–in this case the Orlando Sentinel) is adopting the crowd-sourcing and citizen journalism forms of providing immediate and relevant information. It’s a great case study in the new journalism as well as crisis management. I noted with particular interest that the paper immediately purchased a url related to the event–clearly to help drive traffic to their site. Which, after all, is what the old media is all about–building traffic to sell ads. But it is fascinating to see how they are adopting new media forms in order to meet the even more critical objective today.

Thanks PRtini for a great example–and a nice reference.

When do personal sins require a press release? Don't be a Tiger

I was just interviewed by a reporter from a major newspaper about Tiger and the latest sad revelations and his statement. His new apology was much more direct, open and transparent than the earlier one–as one would expect given the revelations playing in the media right now.  The one statement that jumped out at me was this:

“Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.”

Anyone viewing the comments on Tiger’s site, the Twitter conversation and even the comment on this site (thanks Joe) can appreciate the tremendous support and fan base that Tiger has enjoyed. I commented to the reporter that that fan base is a relationship, a marriage of sorts. He not only violated his marriage vows, he seriously impacted and threatened his relationship with his adoring fans (myself included) by his actions and by his refusal to be more open and transparent after things started to unravel. Certainly, the relationship with his fans doesn’t count for anything like that with his family–and he should explain to the rest of us that he needs to focus on his family and work to heal the tremendous hurt he has caused. But he has hurt us as well as so his statement about not owing us anything is quite wrong. A public confession is appropriate Tiger, because you are very very public. It’s one of the things that goes with $100 million a year in endorsements–you really can’t have one without the other.

More than a press release is necessary. Yes, we are pulling for you mightily, we want the best for you and your family. But do consider your relationship with us too.

Don't Be a Tiger when it comes to crisis management

If you’ve been involved in a crisis or major emergency involving public information, there is a very good chance you were a participant in or witness to a conversation something like this:

PIO: I know it is going to make us look bad, but we have to come out with it.
Response Leader or Executive: Just give them a simple statement saying we are sorry and we are fixing the problem.
PIO: But without providing any details we will just encourage more questions.
Leader: So? We don’t have to answer questions.
PIO: If we don’t we will look guilty.
Leader: And if we tell them what you suggest we tell them we will be guilty!
PIO: But it still is much better if bad news came from us rather than someone else.
Leader: What if the bad stuff doesn’t out at all? These satellite trucks and helicopters can’t hang around forever. If we’re lucky, some big news will hit and we’ll get bumped to the back page.
PIO: Excuse me, there’s no back page on the internet.

Well, I could go on. Tiger is not talking. Not to the police, not to his adoring fans, maybe not even to his wife, we don’t know. But the longer he doesn’t talk, the worse it looks for him. In the meantime, it’s a big story and that means lots of people are talking. The more Tiger is silent, the more the professional newsdiggers and now all the unprofessional and amateur newsdiggers are busily doing what they can to get the next scoop–miniscule or major.

One of the comments on Tiger’s website after he posted his hopelessly anemic statement said it very well:

Tiger, Not sure of the private nature of your conflict. Pretty sure of the public nature of why people want to hear from you on the issue. They want to believe in you. In a real sense, you’ve inherited Arnie’s Army et al and your supporters WANT to believe in you. My request, as a man who works with ex-addicts and ex-inmates in Idaho, is to come clean. Attorneys are important, honesty more so. It’s a heavy burden to carry the PR weight you carry, I am certain. It is a heavier burden to carry, when a person looks like they are shrugging away any other weight that conflicts withwell placed appearances. Be real. The world is looking for realness.

There is an obvious lesson for everyone in crisis management and particularly when you or your organization are responsible for the crisis–environmental spill, industrial accident, health or safety risk to the public. Tell the people what is going on. If you can’t say anything because you don’t have the information or are prevented by legal restrictions or something is being investigated, then say it. Tiger would be so much better off saying something like: I had that accident because (something stupid he did). I’m terribly sorry for the pain this causing my wife, family and my fans and supporters. I need some time alone with my family and to heal physically and emotionally from this event. I will be fully cooperating with all authorities and answering any questions they have (and then do it for goodness’ sake).

I hope for the very best for this incredible young man. It would be so sad to see one of the greatest athletes and talents of all time lose his career and the respect he deserves–particularly if it is mostly because of getting some terrible PR advice.