Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tweets and Disaster

    The recent Costa Concordia disaster off the coast of Italy brings a staggering lesson to light:  how well would your company deal with a crisis?
    We'll skip over the captain's explanations ("it was a blackout"  "it was a technical error"  "what rock?") and move forward to your business social media team.  Gone are the days when you had time to prepare a statement for the press and the public.  Now, the event can and will overtake you before you've had time to gather your thoughts.  This means that your team needs to be on board, on the ball, watching the world and NOT getting caught with their collective pants down.
     One of the world's leading public relations firms is Burson-Marsteller.  Their chief global strategist Dallas Lawrence has some thoughts on how your team perform damage control quickly and efficiently, but more importantly, effectively.  His complete article can be found here:
and it would be worth your while to read it before you need it.  In the interim, here are Dallas' six important thoughts on managing a crisis in the Twitter age.
1)  Begin with the basics
    Vince Lombardi, when he took over coaching duties at the Green Bay Packers, famously told his squad they would begin at the beginning.  He held up a football and said "This, gentlemen, is a football."   Can't get much more basic than that.  In our world, the basic is that YOU ARE ON LINE.  If you company doesn't have a Twitter account, isn't on Facebook, stop reading NOW and GO DO IT.   And remember, one account isn't all you need.  In your need for branding, etc., you will need extra accounts.  
2)  The media is on Twitter
     Yep, the media uses Twitter as a method of obtaining stories and facts.  Wire services like Reuters and Associated Press use Twitter, as do many journalists.  Do you know which journalists cover your business and others like it and why?  These are the folks you need to get a handle on and communicate with.  It will pay big dividends when and if the time for damage and spin control comes.
3)  Check your headline
    Here's one that was an actual newspaper headline:  "Most Homicide Victims Don't Talk to Police."   Really?  I guess the cops don't want to engage with the homicide victims that WILL talk to them.  The point is, your headline on Twitter is very important.  Many sites utilize an auto populate function that will continue to perpetrate a headline that, if taken out of context, may well do more harm than good.
4)  It's a video world
    If you don't think video isn't important, let your mind wander back to the unfortunate incident late last year in which a FedEx deliveryman was captured tossing an expensive monitor over a fence.  FedEx reacted quickly, including video from the senior vice president of US operations who offered an apology.  You can read about it and see it here:   
     A rapid response video posted on Twitter can head off a lot of problems, but the key is RAPID RESPONSE.
5)  Watch for squatters
     Yes, squatters can and do sit on things cyber other than websites.  They also lurk around Twitter, and it's going to be a lot easier to get rid of them BEFORE a crisis than during and after.  Here's a link to Twitter's copyright and trademark protection policy that you should put into play if you see squatters hanging about your fringe.
6)  Add up your advertisements
     Sometimes it seems the entire world is one big advertisement.  And to a large degree, it is. Are you getting your fair share of it?  There are an estimated 250 million Tweets daily.  If you're not out there promoting yourself on Twitter, start now.  It's the only way you'll stay in, and ahead of, the game.

Monday, January 16, 2012

email vs. Twitter


   Stop and think for a moment:  which carries the greater impact?
   A:  being bombarded by ping-pong balls, one ball at a time, all day.
   B:  having a single 14 pound bowling ball dropped on your head.
   If you answered B you'd be correct.  Answer A can be irritating, of course, but you'll remember the bowling ball for days to come!
   That's kind of like it is in the continuing battle between email and Twitter or any other kind of business social media you may use.  The business social media is great for keeping up on a day to day and moment to moment account, but who saves twits and other such messages?
    The old fashioned email should be in play at your corporation as a mass market medium.  It's the electronic version of the old blast-fax.  Emails tend to stick around after they are read.  Emails with coupons or other items will be printed.
    Emails are also more likely to be trusted.  Would you correspond with your bank through Facebook?  And while we're on the subject, you should rarely if ever communicate thoughts, processes, ideas with company colleagues through Twitter.  Email is the only way to go here.
    This has been a short post, but it has a quick point: don't relegate email to the back burner.  Make it a part of your business social media strategy.  Reach your customers in every way you can.
    To quote an old cyber thought from days gone by:
     "You've got mail!"