Category Archives: crisis

84: Mumbai Attacks Spotlight Citizen Journalism

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India over the Thanksgiving holiday dramatized the increasingly important role that citizen journalists are coming to play in the reporting of breaking news.  For hours after the attacks began, bloggers and Twitter users provided eyewitness accounts while professional journalists and television crews rushed to the scene.  Not all of the information that was reported was accurate, and this has raised questions about the credibility of eyewitness reports in an age when everyone can be a journalist.  David and Paul discuss some of the lessons the incident has taught us.

Here are a few stories that dramatize the role that citizen media played in the coverage.:

David and Paul also remark upon the blockbuster announcement out of Detroit this week that the city’s two largest dailies will scale back their print operations and move much of their journalism online. Is this a bold new innovation or a Hail Mary pass?

Download the podcast here (16:20)

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49: Take it down!

It’s a public relations nightmare: Some blogger posts an angry rant about your company. A few other curmudgeons join in and pretty soon you’ve got a gripefest going on. Or maybe someone gets hold of an internal memo that’s not meant for public distribution and posts it for the world to see. What do you do?

In the old days, we had back-room procedures for handling problems like these, but bloggers and consumer advocacy sites don’t play by the old rules. In fact, your cease-and-desist notice is likely to become more blog fodder.  In the new world of crisis communications, protests and threats don’t get you very far. You need to negotiate, admit when problems exist and not take yourself too seriously. Not that that’s easy, mind you!

Download the podcast here (11:10).

Why you should never give an unrehearsed demo to a journalist with a video camera

Scott Kirsner (TPRWS episode 31) blogs about a disastrous live demo by an executive at Nuance Communications, one of the biggest players in speech recognition. The demo went so badly that the exec posted a follow-up on YouTube explaining what went wrong. A lot of reporters carry video cameras these days, so know what you’re doing before you agree to let them switch those devices on!

38: Boo hiss

ThumbsdownPaul was attacked in the blogosphere last week, and it got him thinking about dealing with negativity online. The risk of blogger attacks is one of the biggest reasons companies avoid social media, but Paul and David argue that fears are overblown. Sure, you need a thick skin to invite customer feedback. But companies with good products and happy customers aren’t likely to be hurt by one bad seed. And companies with poor products and angry customers should research their situation thoroughly before wading into the blogosphere.

Negativity can be an important indicator of future trouble, so it pays to monitor customer conversations. Also, the speed at which a story spreads these days can catch businesses flat-footed if they don’t react quickly. A recent story involving AT&T and the California wildfires demonstrates this; the story was “dugg” more than 2,100 times in the six hours before AT&T issued an apology. The good news is that fast action and a willingness to admit mistakes can quickly quell negative publicity.

 Listen to the podcast (9:32)