‘Micro news cycles’ challenge for brands

Brands are increasingly called into question everyday on blogs, Twitter, YouTube etc. The challenge, from a communications perspective, can be to spot when crisis is a crisis, and when and how to respond.

Ten to fifteen years ago, other than the occasional interruption of radio and possibly TV news, many crises worked across a timeframe of a day or a couple of days. This is a luxury that no longer exists due to the complexity and immediacy of today’s media and, of course, social media.

There are now news cycles within news cycles, media within media, and enthusiastic amateurs that can spread a story faster than Tiger Woods can make an apology!

So how can brands plan to adapt to the ‘Micro news cycle’ so that its own activity does not amplify that which can be controlled or ignore that which will be shared?

There are a few simple rules to apply here:

Know the influence of the audience
Part of the issue some have is that they can’t make the same association in terms of credibility with, for instance, a tweet as they can with an article in a national Newspaper, so a social media audit should be the first step in any crisis planning activity. Brands need to know the authority of their potential promoters and detractors, and what really constitutes influence.

Don’t wait until the crisis to communicate
Apply the same principles of developing relationships with influential social media contributors as you would with the traditional media. Engage, communicate, involve, and if possible meet.

Put processes and protocols in place
Using the knowledge developed through a media and social media audit, ensure that crisis plans developed take into account some basic metrics that relate to social media, so that the team can distinguish between a crisis and basic background noise.

Adapt and take advice
The hard and fast rules are that there are no hard and fast rules, just a changing landscape that requires the brand to be flexible, open, communicative and relevant. In the heat of a social media frenzy, one bad move can spread like wildfire so testing responses internally and with advisers is essential.

Remember one tweet won’t build a brand but it might bring one down…

Contact rhodri.harries@kaizo.net for further information.

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