It was inevitable but nevertheless, it should be marked. About three years ago use of the Internet surpassed readership of all news magazines. Now it has passed newspapers in terms of amount of time spent. According to this article in Editor and Publisher “Americans spend an average of 4 1/2 hours a day watching TV, far more time than they spend on any other medium. Next come the radio and the Internet. Reading newspapers is fourth, passed this year by Internet use.”
“On the bottomless Web, there’s always room for more detail, more depth.”
This is an important message for crisis communicators because so often I see the minimalist thinking more appropriate for the old media world. Hey, you’re in a crisis. Give them the minimum. The media’s going to stay with the headlines anyway. And the more you put out there, the more they may write or more questions they may ask
The truth is, usually when you are putting content on a website in a crisis you are speaking to the few and the highly interested. Family members. Neighbors. Investors. Senior executives. Activists. They are reading what you write because they are interested for some reason in what is going on. And they want details, and lots of them. They are not and never will be satisfied with the simple headlines and the old pyramid style of news reporting. That was writing in the age of newsprint rationing. Bits and bytes are all but free.
This point is really expanded on in this article about the new kind of news sites that Curley is selling. Highly interactive, of course. Rich in detail. But, you might ask, who reads such details. Look what happened in Kansas:
“And kusports.com, one of Curley’s better-known projects, covered the University of Kansas Jayhawks teams in ways the Lawrence Journal-World couldn’t. In addition to live play-by-play, it featured an animated playbook of the basketball team’s most effective plays, and a writer who previewed coming matchups by simulating them on a computer game and covering them like real games. The result? Three years after Curley took over, monthly page views soared from around 500,000 to a peak of around 13 million. Not bad for a town with 82,000 residents. “
The point is this: when someone is interested enough to spend time on your site, they want details. Get out of the old media world thinking, and give them what they want.
Can’t believe all the coverage around the Mel Gibson debacle. Now that I heard what he said and heard some rumors about family issues relating to anti-semitic attitudes, it is clear that the hole he is in is very very deep.
It’s interesting to see that there are varying views in the PR/Crisis Management industry around this event. This article identifies some of those differences. Including comments by my associate Jonathan Bernstein.
My take: Gibson is in deep trouble. Bernstein is right that he needs to say the right things and do the right things. In terms of what he should have said and when, I believe he needed to come out strong as early as possible with the strongest possible apology, accept responsibility, not duck from what he said or did, ask for help, and explain what he is doing to address the situation. A lot of it he is doing, but some muck is just too thick.
Oh yeah, Mel needs a blog. A crisis blog.
I am a fan of newsvine and the model it presents for the global “watercooler”. By that I mean the real time discussion of current issues by those participating. Aine McDermot is a familiar name to newsvine junkies. And here is a very insightful and thought provoking article posted on newsvine by this talented writer and thinker. Purposeful Journalism.
I especially appreciate the comments about how mainstream media has blurred the lines between entertainment and journalism, driven by their need to run profitable businesses. For those interested, this is a major topic of my book “Now Is Too Late: Survival in an Era of Instant News” and the soon to be published second edition, Now Is Too Late2.
Her comments on “Social Journalism” are equally relevant but I sense are just touching the surface of this fascinating and incredibly important topic. Everyday I become more convinced that the world of public information, news, reporting, public affairs, corporate issue management and crisis communication is changing dramatically and the change is driven increasingly by the blogosphere and the huge culture changes that the blogosphere represents and is leading.
If you are in corporate communications, or are a CEO or senior leader of an organization that operates with a public franchise, I encourage you to check out Newsvine but also read this intriguing article.
This guy named Finkelstein in Washington DC calls Comcast to get his cable fixed. The cable guy comes over and gets put on hold by his own service department for an hour, so he takes a nap. Finkelstein thinks this is funny so he videotapes the cable guy asleep and puts some music to it.
No big deal. Just like ten thousand other service problems going on right now. Amusing even. But then Finkelstein does what young interneters do these days. He shared his video. With a quarter of a million others. He posted it up on www.youtube.com and 227,000 others got the opportunity to share in his little joke.
It didn’t end there. The news media picked it up. I watched the video on KING5 last night on the 11 pm news. Not sure how many others picked it up or if the likes of CNN or other cable networks covered it as well. I did check and it was on Newsvine (www.newsvine.com).
The point here is not Comcast’s customer service problems (I’m a customer and they have problems). But it is the fact that any of your employees doing dumb things can easily be videotaped or simply show up in a blog, on a news site, or a vodcast. Talk about a glass house. Talk about transparency. When one partied-out cable guy decides to take a nap, suddenly it can become a major, major black eye for his employer and make national news.
The value of having a house with lots of windows is that you tend to want to clean up. Even those untidy closets and corners. So that is the first thing to think about. What needs to be cleaned up? What would be embarrassing and undo all the good work you do and effort spent on communicating and building reputation? But, dustballs will happen. Nothing can be perfectly clean and sooner or later one of your employees is going to take a nap in front of a camera or do something else to embarrass you. Then the question is, are you prepared to deal with it–at the speed of youtube?