Social Media & Crisis Communications: Not an Oxymoron

Is Marrying Marketing & News Like Kissing a Pig?

by Eric Seidel, CEO
The Media Trainers®

My good friend Richard (Dick) Miles’ recent post on his own blog, Edit30, brilliantly captures the collision of today’s new media with the age-old challenge of addressing a crisis. Social media now have a major role in alerting the masses.

Dick sites a fascinating and very valuable AdAge article by Pete Blackshaw, exec VP of Nielsen Online Digital Strategic Services. He uses the response to the swine flu crisis by the Centers for Disease Control as his case study for the intersection of a crisis and social media. Blackshaw says,

“At the end of the day, communities are popping up all over the social-media landscape around the swine flu issue, which means CDC needs a presence, or some level of representation everywhere. The CDC has made its swine flu information easy to share and pass-on virally through social networks. Whether through widgets, Twitter links or embeddable mobile apps, they did precisely this.”

What’s especially interesting is that Blackshaw’s whole premise is based on how marketers are responding to the new, social media. In my years of experience, news and marketing were rarely, if ever, brought together. But Pete Blackshaw is absolutely correct. Communicators dealing with the news media have got to take a marketing approach.

This does not mean developing and delivering messaging that is laden with company/organization slogans. But, with all the available channels of information today, you have to think as a marketer, determine all the possible places your audiences can be located and then strategically create valid and newsworthy messages.

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