Tag Archives: social media

What YouTube Direct means for the post-media world

The movement toward a true post-mainstream media world took another big leap forward with the announcement last week of YouTube Direct. There’s been lots of talk, including on this blog, about how the 300 million plus people walking around with smartphones are the electronic newsgathering network of today. And how the news outlets such as CNN and CBS and trying increasingly hard to tap into this network of citizen journalists. YouTube brilliantly just made it a lot easier. While I confess I haven’t looked at it in detail it looks a bit like combining YouTube downloading capability with some HARO (Help a Reporter Out) functionality. So someone with a cell video camera can capture something stunning like Tom Cruise jumping on a couch over his new love or houses floating by on a flooded river and immediately post that to YouTube, where it can the be easily accessed by media, bloggers or anyone else to share. Also, those looking for video on specific topics can request it or search and those with them can submit directly. That seems to be the idea as I understand it.

What this means of course is more access by anyone who is interested to the videos and information they want.  The implications for crisis and emergency management professionals is significant. Now more than ever when you respond, the story will be told already. The chances of getting the first word in are remote–unless you completely control the exposure, such as if you are David Letterman and decide you will reveal the sordid facts and not leave it to someone else. If you don’t control the first hint of what is going on, then by the time you can respond, the world–at least those most interested–will be already receiving a stream of relevant info. The real question for crisis managers and emergency responders is how do you manage an event when everyone who cares very well knows more than you do? That to me is the big question that we will be struggling with in the coming years.

Can social media help in a crisis? Hospital shows how in Fort Hood shooting.

Since I talk a lot about social media and crisis communication these days, I’m often asked for specific examples of how social media works in a major crisis. Here’s a great example, thanks to Kitty Allen at Harris County Hospital District I was pointed to how Scott and White hospital, the closest Level 1 trauma center to Killeen, TX and Fort Hood, used social media during this event.

I hope you read the article but those skimmers, here are a few key lessons learned:

– the hospital launched its Twitter account on September 11 (one of more than 300 hospitals now using Twitter). The fact that it was launched before they really needed it and had 225 followers before the shooting occurred was very helpful in making it useful during the event.

– the first thing Aaron Hughling, the hospital web guy behind this, did was to look at Twitter to see what people were saying. Smart. Listen–because you will find out the issues and how you need to fit in and participate. He found that blood donation was a big deal.

– he posted 43 tweets in three days–jumping his followers to 400. But I’m guessing some of those followers were pretty significant–media, gov offices, maybe White House, etc. It’s not necessarily the numbers–it’s who is following that is important.

– he used his tweets to drive people to additional info: He then sent three tweets within 30 minutes with a link to a statement from the hospital, a phone number for the media, and a note that the ER was closed to all but patients from Fort Hood. That is very smart. 140 characters lets you tell the minimum but tell where else to go. This guy was also managing several websites and two blogs–very busy guy but it shows if you have your act together one communicator with the right tools can do an awful lot.

– he used more than Twitter. Hughling had set up several social media outlets including YouTube, Facebook, etc. (the article provides details) and posting videos such as this one to YouTube helped carry the message.

Great job, Aaron and for those of you looking for case studies on the new crisis management, look at Scott and White.


Crisis management–putting your ears to work

I’ve been talking for some time about the rapidly growing role of monitoring as a critical part of crisis communication. Also been saying in presentations that social media and the online conversation is where so many people are going to get their information. That crisis communicators need to understand at best they will participate and the days of control over the information flow are over.

Being involved in a fairly major event in the past week has brought these lessons home. We are using a variety of means to monitor what is going on–everything from PIER MediaTools to view and clip media including broadcast, to Google Alerts, to Twitscoop.

A few quick observations.

1) Media monitoring shows a tremendous amount of media activity but a lot of it is from the fact that media are now major players in social media with their news websites. All print media as well as broadcast use their news sites heavily which makes for a lot of traffic, frequent updates, and a tremendous amount of linking by interested viewers via their blogs and Twitter accounts.

2) Local is global. This is a fairly localized event with only a smattering of national media attention, but the conversation is global. Those interested (or passionate) about topics involved are going to be jumping into the conversation heavily and will keep it going as long as it of interest.

3) People learn from each other. It’s fascinating watching the online conversation and see many of the same news stories or comments showing up over and over on different sites. It’s one of the reasons this monitoring is so important because invariably some get the facts wrong and unless the correct information is readily available or the wrong info is quickly challenged, it does not take long for it to become accepted. The only saying about a lie repeated often enough becoming the truth takes on new urgency in the viral world of social media because it can be repeated a hundred or thousand times in mere minutes or hours.

4) The conversation was always there–but now you can hear it. That is something that really strikes me about a big change in communications and crisis management. All major events stirred lots of conversation–dinner table, office chat, in bars and restaurants, wherever people gather. Except now they don’t gather to have conversations, they do it by text, tweets, blogs, comments, all kinds of social media. And that means you can listen in on a lot of those conversations. Sometimes it seems its like the roar of too much conversation in an overcrowded bar. But if you focus in a little, you can hear fascinating things. And these can give you great insight into how things are turning, what the concerns are, what questions need to be answered, what information is going sideways, etc. In other words, the conversation will drive the communication response as much or maybe more in some cases than the events of the response itself.

5) Participate–not control. It’s is still very difficult for most response leaders and those who have been in public communication for a long time to really grasp this. In this world of heightened conversation, you don’t control the information. At best, you participate. But you do this by providing a continuous feed of of relevant, up to date information about what is going on. You can’t participate if you insist on sticking to a one press release a day strategy. And you can’t participate by putting all your eggs in the press conference basket–as important as it is. You participate by being the best, most reliable source for what is really happening. Then, you will find, as did in this incident, that soon your website will be given shortened url and sent around the twittersphere and blogosphere as the fastest, most relevant source of what is going on.

More examples of news via Twitter, plus: Is Social Media a fad?

I’ve been talking in my presentations quite a bit about how Twitter is how the mainstream is getting more of its news and how increasingly Twitter itself is spreading the news. Here’s another great example–the debris on the Bay bridge that snarled traffic for hours or more.

Thanks to Gabe, I was alerted to this YouTube video (nearly a million views so obviously I’m not the first to see it) that seeks to answer the question of whether or not Social Media is a fad. I think it is a great video, very well done and interesting accumulation of facts, but one thing keeps bothering me.

Why Social Media? Why not call it the internet, or even Web 2.0 like social media used to be called. After all, what is called social media today is really internet applications that have been very widely adopted and adopted in particular to help people do what they’ve been doing since hiding out in caves: connecting with each other talking about things that interest them. The internet as a series of related technologies makes that connecting possible in ways never dreamt of before. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube are all just examples of some of those related technologies that have gotten tremendous interest and public play. I can virtually guarantee that all things hot now in social media are already well on the way to becoming dodo birds (even Facebook growth has tailed off significantly and Twitters’ precipitously). That doesn’t mean that social media will go away. The real question ought to be is the internet a fad? But the answer to that is so obvious that obviously if someone did that they wouldn’t get a million views.

How social media is changing emergency and crisis communication

I blogged on this at emergencymgmt.com which is my blog more focused on government communication and emergency management. But, it may be of more general interest to those involved in crisis communication so, here it is. It’s my crisis management take-off on an excellent post by Soren Gordhamer on the five ways social media has changed our lives.

Comments on Peter Shankman's Comments

Peter Shankman is a “rockstar” in the social media world. By that I mean he is one of the few celebrity speakers to emerge (and I’m tweaking him because he begged not to be called a rockstar anymore). I’m in Houston speaking at the PRSA Houston conference and this is the second time in a year my presentation has immediately followed Mr. Shankman’s. The first was in Las Vegas last March at the Ragan/PRSA Social Media conference.

First, I want to say that he was a keynoter on both of these and I was a lowly breakout speaker–so I don’t want anyone to interpret my comments as bitterness, not one little bit, well, maybe. Fact is, Peter is a very entertaining, highly energetic speaker with some serious social media pioneering chops (one of first to work for AOL for example) and he says some important and intriguing things about social media and where things are going.

(By the way, I’m a fan of HARO and think he did a brilliant and good thing for reporters and PR people alike.)

The fundamental things he talks about (I think, since he talks so fast that a lot of older people like me have a hard time following even though in this case I was only a few feet away from him) I agree with when it comes to analysis of social media and where it is going. But on almost everything else of importance I disagree.

For example, social media is not mostly about getting dates, nor is life mostly about searching for your next girlfriend. It’s hard not to come to the conclusion listening to him (and I’ve heard him twice now give essentially the same presentation) that his life revolves around sitting on airplanes (320,000 air miles this year? Yikes, I agree with your then girlfriend Peter who said get a life!) and finding his next conquest. And its hard not to conclude that for him that’s where social media is largely focused–the examples he provided whether defining advertising vs, public relations or how the emerging “one network” idea all lend credence to this focus.

I also fundamentally and strongly disagree with him that if you are not tweeting a thousand times during his presentation you obviously don’t give a crap about building your brand, or if you don’t have 15,000 fans on your facebook page and you’re not spending the early hours of every morning sending happy birthday messages to everyone you know, you have no clue what social media is all about. Peter, not everyone is a worldclass connector like you are, not everyone has time for this kind of activity and some of us treasure quality time with a few longtime friends rather than trying to build connections with strangers all over the planet.

And I most clearly disagree with him about David Letterman and Governor Sanford. His view, and he professes to speak for all of New York on this, is that no one will think ill of Mr. Letterman’s or Mr. Sanford’s behavior and since Letterman did such an admirable job of honestly and transparently dealing with his creepiness (Letterman’s words, not mine) that the world will rush to forgive him. Also that the entire public relations community should look at this as a wonderful example of crisis communication.

I blogged on this on emergencymgmt.com and I couldn’t disagree more. There are some like Peter whose moral values include the view that it is not only not wrong to sleep with anyone who consents, that there is something honorable about it. And that includes those who have made promises to their spouses in an ancient and clearly outdated institution called marriage. As I recall, the wedding vows still state that faithfulness and commitment are a pretty normal part of this arrangement. It also appears in New York or in Shankman’s view of it, that it perfectly appropriate for a superior in an organization to use that position to influence the “consent.” Even if you take a different view of morality than me, it is hard in this age where sexual harassment is illegal and broadly defined, that Mr. Letterman is going to escape some very reasonable accusations here. But to Shankman, all this is normal, reasonable, expected and I sense even honorable.

I asked the group I presented to right after Mr. Shankman finished what they thought of his presentation. They were enthralled–such is his attraction as a presenter (and why he gets the keynote invitations). But when I mentioned that I didn’t see eye to eye with him on the issues I just raised and mentioned that I have been gratefully married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years and hope to continue on the rest of my life, I received warm applause.

So I suspect there are more than a few fuddy duddies like me who think that Letterman is a very funny and talented creep. And that social media has more to offer society than the fast hookup.

Note–after posting this I noted the pingback on my earlier blog about Letterman’s future. I agree and wish I could have said it so creatively.

Three more examples of social media policies–Kodak, Intel, IBM

Social media policies are a big issue today. They are fraught with danger. One, because the culture of the internet demands transparency and openness to incredible degrees, but the culture also seems to celebrate anger, rudeness, crudeness, vulgarity and general disrespect. I blogged earlier here about Walmart’s Twitter policy. From Mashable, here are three examples of other major organizations with social media policies around transparency, moderation of comments, and the value of social media.

E.coli, Polanksi, Letterman, Lewis and more

Too many interesting things going on to focus on one.

1. E.coli in hamburger. I suspect food borne illness has decreased dramatically in the last 50 years. I grew up on a dairy farm where we grew and ate most of our own food, including meat from old cows. The town butcher would show up and mom would cut up and can the meat. I remember her even making head cheese. But this article in the New York Times about e.coli in hamburger is a sign of the times. Note the style–an attractive young woman shown to have her life threatened and harmed. Another innocent young girl spending nine weeks in a coma. Reference the death of four children–15 years ago. Then show how companies are cutting costs for profit. Then show how lax regulations are and our government is allowing the industry to police itself. This is classic white hat black hat reporting. I do not say this to diminish the risks of e.coli at all, nor to downplay the horrific suffering of those who have been victims of it. And I also fully support all efforts to improve our food safety. My only point is this–if you are in the food business you should be aware that we are entering a time of unprecedented focus and transparency. I’ve seen too many examples (Food, Inc. production for example) where the those producing our food think they can hide and prevent the public’s prying eyes from seeing. Those days are gone. Open up your doors and windows and if there is anything you are doing you can’t defend, then change it. I ask this for the sake of continuing the great blessing of affordable, healthy food that has enabled billions on this planet to eat well, and too many to eat way too well.

2) Hollywood shows it colors in Polanksi affair. Hmm, let me ask you something. If a prominent clergyman was convicted of having sex with a 13 year old, what would the Hollywood biggies think about it. They’d hang him from the highest tree and do it with the greatest glee (sorry about that). But what do they do when one of the high priests caught is one of their own. Forgive and honor. Not only do I find this outrageously hypocritical, it is disgusting. But part of my is glad for this because in such action you can see the true colors of those folks. I only hope for a few prominent leaders in Hollywood to call these people on it. As for the rest of us, this shows too clearly the moral compass or lack of it among those people who define so much of our culture for us and for the rest of the world.

3) Ken Lewis and $53 million retirement. Trust in business and major institutions is one of my missions and goals. I want business to earn public trust and not have the public trust business more because government is stepping in to regulate and control it. However, public trust will likely take a huge black eye with this retirement package. For those in the media and the public jumping on these things, I think there should be a continual reminder that in the height of the financial crisis, these banks were not given a choice about accepting government money. With the money came  different set of expectations and extraordinary levels of government control and public say. The kind of criticism that will come from this is both understandable and unfortunate–in part because they resisted being put in this position.

4) Social media policy at the Washington Post. If you are an organization leader with employees and you are not struggling with social media policies, you are probably Ken Lewis heading for a nice retirement .Everyone else has a big worry on their hands. Even those in the media–or maybe even more those in the media. Because when a reporter tweets, is he/she acting/thinking on his/her own or are they “reporting”? Since the tweeting of Post reporter Raju Narisetti raised such questions,the Washington Post has created some guidelines aimed at protecting the perception of objectivity. Yeah, uh huh. The one thing I like about the emergence of all this “citizen journalism” is raising the curtain on the pretense of objectivity. Nevertheless, the effort of pretense will go on–and there is benefit to that. But I still think that, like the DoD, the Washington Post or other media trying to control social media is like pushing on a balloon or nailing jello to  wall.

5) Letterman. There’s a strong cynical side of me that says since this was an inside job within CBS it is all a conspiracy to take the focus away from Jay Leno’s new show. But, I doubt the quest for ratings would be great enough for the news producer to be willing to take such a fall–unless of course CBS offered him $2m and a way out of his debts. Hmmm, maybe not so far-fetched. While I have read PR pundits proclaim that Letterman did a perfect job of dealing with this reputation crisis by publicly airing his apparently numerous affairs, and another news report pointed out that these affairs took place before his current marriage, there is still something rotten in Denmark in my mind. In an age when people can be fired, be fined and go to jail for telling off-color jokes in a way that someone can term sexual harassment, to allow one of our cultural icons this kind of latitude seems both incomprehensible and hypocritical. If a boss of a big company were to do this and it hit the news, wouldn’t the question arise as to the inherent coercion of a boss/employee relationship? Sure, supposedly consensual, but he is the boss and some at least would think that implies some form of coercion. There is another point that will be lost on some but not others. This kind of promiscuous behavior at some time in the distant past was looked upon with a certain amount of disfavor. It still is in some circles, including mine. In such circles, we will find it hard to laugh at or with someone who so cavalierly flaunts values we hold dear. Suddenly, I find myself finding Mr. Leno, happily married for decades, to be a very funny and honorable man.

Redskins player shows why employers fear Twitter

Dear Mr/Ms Employer: can you guarantee that all your employees will show good sense when they use Twitter or other social media? No? Then you have a substantial PR and reputation risk. Like the Washington Redskins today. They won the game against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, 9-7, but apparently some fans at the end of the game weren’t happy with their performance, so they booed them as they left the field.

That ticked off one of the benchwarmers, a rookie linebacker, who tweeted after the game and told the fans what he thought of them. He didn’t stop there but when they engaged them insulted them several times telling them he made a lot more sitting on the bench that they did and asking what they knew about football with their 9 – 5 job at McDonalds. Youch.

Chris Chase on Yahoo Sports commented: This is why the NFL would love to ban its players from Tweeting. There’s almost nothing good that can come out of sharing your thoughts in 140-character doses, but there are plenty things that can go wrong.

What happens when an employee is dismissed? What are they going to say on Twitter or Facebook? What happens when there is juicy gossip going around the office about the nightlife of a senior exec? What happens when an employee gets into a fight with a key customer? What happens when a banker throws a party at a repossessed mansion in Malibu–and a party-goer tweets about it.

It’s the age of transparency alright for good and for bad. And one thing that is certain is that not all things that go on inside companies or people minds is good, but equally certain is that in this age alot of those things will come out and be exposed for all the world to see. The NFL might try and ban Twitter, but, the genie is out of the bottle and Pandora has escaped from the box. Now it is a matter for organizations to be vigilant and prepared to deal with the consequences.

Now mainstream breaks the big stories on Twitter–first

I’m getting ready for the webinar I’m doing Sept 1 for Government Educator on Twitter in Government Communications. I just keep pace with the rapid changes in how Twitter is being used for public information and news. Here’s the latest from mashable.com–now this is where at least some mainstream news organizations are breaking their big stories.

Why? Mashable’s Josh Catone posits three possible reasons: to avoid being scooped, to build their awareness and to create new audiences. I agree with all of these but number one is number one. When the competition for news is all around immediacy, you are either fast or you lose. Fast is now measured in seconds, now hours or minutes. I commented here earlier noting how Breaking News On was consistently beating New York Times with their news alerts via Twitter and email. Since then, and that was just a couple of weeks ago, I’ve noticed NYT beating Breaking News more often. I’m not suggesting because I pointed it out, but I suspect they discovered that the 15 to 30 minutes they were behind typically was enough for some news junkies to say why should I stay with them?

It’s all about immediacy–this is happening right now. I just wish I could do a better job of convincing those having to deal with this stuff in major crisis events that this is true and very real. A conversation today in planning a big drill highlights the fact the most continue to be stuck in an old world that just won’t work any more.