State of the art of sentiment analysis and why important for crisis communications

So you’re sitting in your crisis communications operations room, crafting and distributing messages intended to honestly tell the story of your disaster, or, for the PR cynic, put lipstick on a pig. The real question is, what are all those people thinking out there? How are they feeling about your organization, the job that is being done, the messages being received.

Understanding that the success of the response is largely tied to the summation of these opinions and the long-term effect of them, it becomes very important to have a good handle on what people are really thinking. The greater emphasis on interaction and engagement improves this because the communicators are actually talking with those folks or engaging them via digital communications .

Sentiment analysis is vitally important. It’s important to journalists as well as part of their job is understanding and reflecting how people are responding to events and issues of the day. This report from Nieman Lab gives a good idea of how journalists deal with the issue of sentiment. Where many have relied on pundits, or supposed representatives of a group, there is increasing emphasis on statistical sentiment analysis using algorithms to review social media conversations. But, as you will see in this article, these systems are far from fool proof. Just like us humans.


2 thoughts on “State of the art of sentiment analysis and why important for crisis communications”

  1. Maybe part of the answer is in Gerald’s previous post: “One of the best ways to do that is by making friends with those you may need to rely on in a crisis. Let’s say you are a company with some past environmental conflicts. To have a leading global or local environmental group and leadership engaged with you in getting your act together, being open and honest with them about what you are doing, getting their help in thinking through some of your dilemmas just may pay huge dividends when push comes to shove. ”

    A balanced analysis could include your own ‘test group’, and why not use the people you’ve invested in? At the end of the day, you have limited resources and you need to use them to reach the reasonable people who will listen to you. If you’ve invested in your important stakeholders before the crisis, you should be able to use them for feedback to know what the ‘reasonable people’ are thinking.

    And if that doesn’t work, ask your mom! This is the ‘one step back’ rule. Step back from your involvement long enough to ask yourself ‘What would this look like from outside?’. If you’re to deep into a response to do this, try this list of resources:
    Your mom
    Your grandmother
    Your kids
    Any kids (if a ten-year-old can understand what’s going on, you’ve communicated well.)
    Your honest friends.

    The key is to build a control group you can trust and respect, and use them.

  2. Gerald-Thanks for this. Excellent thoughts, as usual and great data from Neiman Lab. Sentiment analysis is the number one metric that drives communications strategies for my crisis clients with reputation-driven events. The importance of monitoring sentiment is huge. Sentiment can predict spikes, stages, and speed in crisis. In can help you identify important influencers and detractors and keeps you ahead of the game. In other words, gotta have it.

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