What makes a good news story? At its heart is the classic who, what, why, when and how? from your journalism school 101. Add in the premise that bad news sells, and youre on the same page as the editors at mainstream media outlets across the globe. Since the advent of the real-time web mainstream media journalists are being presented with these core facts on an hourly basis, combined with instant case studies of the people involved. By tapping into these sources (and at the same time saving the extensive legwork and fact checking of the past) journalists have a ready stream of compelling copy. As a result the grievances of dissatisfied customers are increasingly finding their way into the public domain, requiring companies to be in a constant state of readiness to manage these conversations.
In an excellent article in the Washington Post on the subject Bernhard Warner points out that a genuinely timely and transparent response is now required, rather than the spin of the past. Good advice for online crisis comms, but we believe it goes much further than that. Management teams brought up on a diet of business thinking that glorifies the organisation are now being forced to re-think their entire approach due to the power of the social web. Some inspirational thinking in this area comes from social media commentator Umair Haque . He believes that companies need to go from Great to Good , and rediscover their principles, to thrive/survive in the social age.
Its going to be a long road for the majority of companies to adopt the authenticity, transparency and humbleness required to deal with these new ways of working, and new rules of engagement. For those willing to take that road the investment will pay off as dealing with online reputational threats becomes a day-to-day normality for every company.