Sparking the Media Vacuum
There’s an axiom in physics that states that it’s impossible for a spark to form in a vacuum. And without some intervening electromagnetic force, the spark in question will go mostly unnoticed and be invisible to the naked eye.
But sometimes, a little bang goes off and creates what we observe as a spark plug snap or lightening-induced thunder clap.
This event can be equivocated to the growing span of consumer distrust between traditional news media and user-generated content. Today, people are much more likely to get their daily download from the various social media platforms available on-line than watching the 5 PM slot on TV.
According to a recently published survey by the Pew Research Center, the golden days of brand loyalty to any particular news organization are all but gone. In their report, Pew found that almost 92% of Americans now use multiple social media platforms to get their news instead of the diminishing 7 or 8 % that get their content from a single media source.
This obviously has significant repercussions within the public relations and crisis communications community. Consider:
- Consumer-generated media is readily accessible 24 hours a day, and is not dependent upon the existing news cycle.
- Bad news spreads faster than ever before via Twitter, Facebook, iPods and collective media-sharing “life streams”.
- In a study of the 100 largest companies in the Fortune 500 list, PR firm Burson-Marsteller found that 79% are using social media tools to communicate with customers and other stakeholders.
- The use of these vehicles, (whether they’re internally or externally driven), will help individuals, corporations and government agencies respond immediately to an impending crisis.
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While these interactive news elements clearly make a case for the “application” of social media tools as part of your communication arsenal—it’s not a be-all, end-all solution. You still have to integrate that into your overall crisis communication strategy and respect the fact that traditional media are going to continue to do their thing regardless.