Posts

  • Managing information overload: In today’s media environment, it’s common for many of us to feel overloaded with information. But a new study from the University of Texas and reported on at Nieman Journalism Lab found that “the news platforms a person is using can play a bigger role in making them feel overwhelmed than the sheer number of news sources being consumed.”
  • Journalism today: Columbia Journalism School published a major new report by C.W. Anderson, Emily Bell and Clay Shirky called “Post-Industrial Journalism.”  The report is a thought-provoking look at the present and future state of journalism.
  • A hoax and fake news: A press release sent out last week announcing a fake acquisition by Google was picked up my multiple media organizations before the hoax was discovered. Jack Shafer at Reuters argues that “Fake press releases are a public service.
  • More on law and social media: A couple of worthwhile posts on law and social media: “The essential guide to minimizing legal risks in Social Media Marketing,” and “Can You Libel Someone on Twitter?
  • Local stories and engagement: NPR did an interesting test with local content on Facebook to answer the question, “What is it about certain local stories that make them more social than others? To answer this, we conducted a study to define what types of local content cause the most sharing and engagement.” The results may be helpful for other organizations as well.
  • Reputation and online criticism: Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross highlighted a recent research report on her blog that looked at the subtleties of how brands should respond to online criticism. (Additional information about the study from the researchers at the University of Amsterdam appeared on strategy + business last month.) Dr. Gaines-Ross summarizes the findings by saying, “The short answer to the question of whether companies should repsond and manage damage control online is quite simple. They should, but carefully.” 
  • Nonprofits and data: The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) and Idealware released the “2012 State of Nonprofit Data Report” last week. Beth Kanter evaluated the results in her post, “Nonprofits Collect Lots of Data, But Most Don’t Use It Says NTEN/Idealware Report.”
  • Financial institutions and social media: The folks at Social@Ogilvy put together a helpful guide, “Financial Institutions and Social Media,” which provides information for financial institutions looking to engage in social media while being mindful of strict regulatory rules.
  • Law and social media policies: Based on recent National Labor Relations Board rulings, “if your company has not examined its social media policy in 2012, it is time for counsel and human resources to carefully reword the document’s language, in an effort to harmonize it with recent cases,” according to Professor Perry Binder on his blog Binder Law Training.
  • Reputation loss and crisis: Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross provides a useful analysis of a recent report, Reputation Review 2012, in her post “The High Cost of Reputation Loss.” The report looks at the dynamic between crisis and a company’s financial performance, and as Dr. Gaines-Ross summarizes, found, “Among 10 crisis-ridden companies in 2011, only News Corp found itself in positive terrain afterwards. In fact, what they found was that 7 of the top 10 lost more than one third of their value. Two companies lost nearly 90% of their value.” The report also looked at the effects of having a reputation recovery process in place, the CEO’s response, and clear and transparent communication on the overall recovery process after a major crisis.
  • Customer beliefs and communication: Shel Holtz’ review of research from The Futures Company and its report, “Global MONITOR 12/13,” should give all corporate communicators something to think about in today’s environment. As Holtz says,  “An overwhelming 86 percent of consumers believe that companies put profits over the interests of their customers’ interests, according to a report on the study. That means any communication or marketing campaign faces a brick wall of skepticism.” Holtz outlines a few approaches for companies to work more effectively to align behavior and communication.
  • Employee law and social media policies: This helpful post, “How to Tell if Your Social Media Policy is Unlawful,” discusses some of the recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board and how those decisions might affect other companies’ social media policies. “In nearly three-quarters of the cases brought to the National Labor Relations Board, the agency that protects worker’s rights, the Board found 17 out of 23 policies governing the use of social media by employees to be unlawful.”
  • An alternate history of the social web: At The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal posted a thought-provoking piece about the power of what he calls “dark social” in “Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong.” He describes “dark social” as platforms like email and instant messaging (which have been around much longer than the big social media platforms), and uses recent data to show that the majority of content sharing occurs through these more difficult to measure outlets versus big social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Politics, politics, politics: The first presidential debate last week provided lots of good reading fodder:
    • Presidential body language – The New York Times broke down the meaning behind each candidates’ gestures. “After the first televised presidential debate, held between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon 52 years ago, campaigns have been acutely aware that voters may judge candidates in such encounters as much by their appearance and gestures as by their words.”
    • Fact-checking the debate – There were many fact-checking versions done around the debate, including this one from PolitiFact.
    • PBS and Big Bird – Even if you didn’t watch the debate, you couldn’t escape the discussion around the mention of PBS and Big Bird. PBS’ official response statement is a useful example of organizational communication in a heated national context.
    • Record-setting night for Twitter – With more than 10 million tweets, the debate last week was “the most tweeted-about event in U.S. politics.”
    • Errant KitchenAid tweet – By now we’ve seen a number of examples of errant tweets being sent from corporate accounts, but the latest was KitchenAid’s errant tweet during last week’s debate.
    • Campaigns and social media – This year’s presidential campaigns are going beyond the groundwork set in 2008 and trying a wide variety of social media strategies and tactics to reach and engage voters (particularly younger ones).
  • Civility and politics in America: Not specifically tied to the debate, but Weber Shandwick released its third annual survey, “Civility in America.” Among other things, the survey found that “83% [of people surveyed] say a candidate’s tone or level of civility will be an important factor in the 2012 presidential election,” and “63% believe we have a major civility problem in America.”
  • FTC Green Guides: The FTC issued the final version of its “Green Guides,” which aims to bring more accountability and clarity to environmental claims in advertising. The FTC’s summary is a helpful synopsis.
  • Facebook hits one billion: Facebook passed the one billion user mark last week and released its first television ad.
  • Social media and customer service: New research from the forthcoming “The Social Habit” report found that “42 Percent of Consumers Complaining in Social Media Expect 60 Minute Response Time.”  (Also, a majority expect the same response time on nights and weekends.) These kinds of customer expectations have concrete implications for companies managing customer service issues through social media.
  • Geography and news consumption: A new Pew study looked at how geography impacts people’s news consumption habits, and a good post on Nieman Journalism Lab breaks down the findings. The study looked at the differences between urban, suburban, small town and rural residents, and looked at what types of topics people were interested in and what sources they turn to for news.
  • CEOs and Twitter: The Wall Street Journal had a much-discussed piece last week on CEOs fear of Twitter and a few notable executives who have embraced it so far. While some CEOs have taken the plunge, “Seven in 10 Fortune 500 CEOs have no presence on major social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+, according to a recent report by CEO.com and analytics company Domo.”
  • Company culture and social media: An excellent post from Shel Holtz on the challenges of not only implementing social media but truly adopting it across large businesses. As he says, “All the technologies in the world won’t make an organization social, nor will strategic plans for implementing those technologies, if the culture won’t support it.”
  • Apple apology: Apple issued a rare apology last week for problems with its new Maps function, unveiled recently in the new iPhone and operating system.
  • Media and quote approvals: There’s been an intriguing series of discussions in the New York Times (and Vanity Fair and elsewhere) about the practice of allowing interview subjects to review quotes due to be used in articles prior to print. The Times covered this aspect of political reporting back in July; David Carr explored it more recently in “The Puppetry of Quotation Approval” and in a follow-up article asking participants in the process to weigh in; and then finally on Sept. 20th, the Times issued a new policy that “forbids after-the-fact quote approval.” From our experience, this is a practice that has become somewhat common in the world of financial and business reporting as well (not just relegated to politics), and it will be interesting to see the effects of the Times’ new policy, if any.
  • Distrust in media: A new Gallup poll found that “Americans’ distrust in the media hit a new high this year, with 60% saying they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. Distrust is up from the past few years, when Americans were already more negative about the media than they had been in years prior to 2004.” As Gallup points out, this lack of trust has particular implications during an election year. (via Romenesko)
  • Fortune 500 and social media: The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research issued its latest report on the use of social media by the Fortune 500, which it’s done every year since 2008. Adoption and range of use continues to grow in this group, and the annual study provides a good comprehensive look at global business adoption of social media.
  • New Pew Internet research: The Pew Internet and American Life Project issued two recent reports of interest, one on smartphone ownership in the United States (they found that “45% of American adults own smartphones”), and one on “Photos and Videos as Social Currency Online.”
  • Cultural critique, Gangnam-style: It’s almost impossible to escape the Internet meme of the late summer/early fall – Gangnam Style, a music video by the South Korean artist Psy that’s overtaken the U.S. and much of the world. But The Atlantic provided one of the more interesting cultural insights into the video in the article “Gangnam Style, Dissected: The Subversive Message Within South Korea’s Music Video Sensation.”
  • Politics & social media: The Pew Internet and American Life Project released a new report last week, “Politics on Social Networking Sites.” The survey noted, “The vast majority of SNS users (84%) say they have posted little or nothing related to politics in their recent status updates, comments, and links.” And a fairly small number of people said their political views had changed as a result of political activity on social networking sites. Only “16% of SNS users say they have changed their views about a political issue after discussing it or reading posts about it on the sites.”
  • Future of media: The Columbia Journalism Review’s “Special report: the future of media” provides interesting fodder on “the long view” of the future of media.
  • Wikipedia and PR: This month’s edition of the CW Bulletin (a monthly e-newsletter) from IABC, “PR and Wikipedia: Building a better relationship,” dives into the issues and current topics around the relationship between communicators and the world’s largest encyclopedia. There are feature articles on ethics, strategy and engagement, as well as additional column articles and case studies. For a complementary view on the challenges people sometimes face in updating incorrect or outdated information on Wikipedia, read the novelist and author Philip Roth’s “An Open Letter to Wikipedia” from the New Yorker last week. (Note that the Wikipedia entry for Roth’s The Human Stain has since been changed and is now correct.)
  • Corporate social media management: Jeremiah Owyang has published a helpful series of blog posts over the last few weeks on the internal structures and management of social media at large corporations: “Breakdown: Social Media Workflow, Process, Triage,” “Breakdown: Converged Media Workflow (Coordinating Paid + Owned + Earned),” and “Breakdown: Corporate Social Media Team.”

We hope everyone enjoyed the long holiday weekend here in the U.S. Now back to our usual schedule.

  • Trust and the media: A recent study found that even though trust in media institutions has been falling, most people would still rather get their news from professional journalists. From Poynter‘s story on the study: “More than 60 percent of U.S. adults say they “prefer news stories produced by professional journalists,” and more than 70 percent agree that “professional journalists play an important role in our society,” according to new survey data from the Reynolds Journalism Institute.” The full survey also looked at the role of mobile technologies on news and views on media consumption.
  • Social technologies and business value: The McKinsey Global Institute issued an interesting research report in July, “The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies.” The report “explores [the technologies’] potential economic impact by examining their current usage and evolving application in four commercial sectors: consumer packaged goods, retail financial services, advanced manufacturing, and professional services. These technologies, which create value by improving productivity across the value chain, could potentially contribute $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in annual value across the four sectors.” In essence, the research found that although the majority of companies are using social media in some capacity, “very few are anywhere near to achieving the full potential benefit.” (report via Shel Holtz)
  • President Obama and Reddit: The President participated in an “Ask Me Anything” (or AMA) forum on the social site Reddit last week, notable as a new presidential social media tactic. The Nieman Journalism Lab has a good round-up of opinions on the tactic, and David Carr at the New York Times has some background on Reddit, for those not familiar with the site.

Like many people today who are back in the office for the first time since before the holidays, I’ve been spending the day catching up, including going through my Google Reader. I subscribe to a number of corporate blogs, and as I got to the Delta Air Lines blog, I expected to read something – even a short post – about the attempted bombing on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it made its way to Detroit on Christmas Day.

But there was nothing about the incident on the blog, an incident which caused a ripple effect of newly enacted security measures and massive disruptions in international air travel around the world.

I went to the Delta Air Lines website, found the News section of the site and one very short official statement, “Delta Air Lines Issues Statement on Northwest Flight 253.” The official statement described a passenger who “caused a disturbance” on the flight and was restrained. The description of events is vague enough to apply to any number of types of potential “disruptive” activities, and wouldn’t necessarily lead one to believe that an attempted terrorist act had been committed. While directing “additional questions” to law enforcement, the statement goes into no additional detail about what happened, even though some of those details were already being reported by the media.

So, I checked Delta’s Twitter account, to see if additional information or context was being provided there. There’s exactly onetweet specifically about the December 25th attempted bombing:

Delta 12/25 Tweet

Now, the Delta Twitter account appears to have sat dormant from June 17th till December 22nd of 2009, when traveler outcry over U.S. domestic travel delays due to various winter storms was reaching a fever pitch. But the one tweet about the 25th simply redirects back to Delta’s website, where no additional statements about the incident have been provided since the 25th. There have been additional tweets on @DeltaAirLines advising travelers to expect delays due to new TSA regulations, but nothing specifically about the incident on the 25th.

I’d guess that there were at least three factors working against Delta’s communication efforts:

  1. The attempted bombing occurred on Christmas Day, one of the very few days of the year when almost no corporate employees are in the office. But in today’s age, it’s inconceivable that “the world’s largest airline,” a company responsible daily for hundreds of thousands of people’s lives, wouldn’t have some kind of chain of communication in place to deal with an event like this, even on Christmas Day.
  2. Delta and Northwest have been in the process of merging in the last year, and just in the last week were given government permission to fully complete the merger. There’s some confusion (for an average reader) in the company’s statement, with Delta as the company issuing the statement and the flight branded/operated as a Northwest flight. I can imagine that there’s still confusion in corporate communication operational role clarity as well. I know, as a frequent Delta/Northwest traveler, there has still been confusion on the ground. Again, I can’t imagine that a company of this size and complexity wouldn’t have negotiated a crisis communication response process as part of the merger details.
  3. From this and other articles, it appears that there’s some behind-the-scenes dissatisfaction between the Delta CEO and the government agencies responsible for airline safety. But “inside baseball” talk isn’t what the average member of the public needs or wants to hear in the aftermath of this kind of event.

Also, what I find unfortunate in this communication situation is that Delta had the two social media channels – its blog and its Twitter account – already established, had an audience eager for more information, and provided only the scant minimum of content or context. What I find particularly disconcerting about the blog is that there have been two posts since the 25th about totally innocuous content, which in the wake of the serious events of the 25th read as even more out of touch. (I imagine they were probably scheduled to post in advance, but again, when crisis happens sometimes the response calls for suspending business-as-usual activities.)

Other companies have used their social media channels in the wake of attempted terrorist attacks despite restrictions on detailed disclosure due to ongoing legal investigation. For example, look at the heartfelt message on the Marriott blog after one of its hotels in Pakistan was the target of an attempted attack in 2007, which lead to the death of a hotel employee and severe injury of another.

Thankfully, Northwest Flight 253 landed safely and disaster was averted, due in large part to the response of the flight crew and other passengers on the flight. But what a lost communication opportunity for the company to provide context, as well as show some humanity and thankfulness, for what in the end was as good an ending as could have been expected.

*Note: I’m a very frequent Delta/Northwest flier, but other than being a long-time customer have no professional ties to the company.

This post has been cross-posted on my personal blog.

Today and tomorrow, November 12-13, the FDA is holding a historic public hearing regarding the “Promotion of Food and Drug Administration-Regulated Medical Products Using the Internet and Social Media Tools.” This is the first time since 1996 that the FDA has examined the role of technology in pharmaceutical and medical device communication and advertising.

The FDA is looking at five questions, as stated in the Federal Register notice about the hearing:

  1. “For what online communications are manufacturers, packers, or distributors accountable?
  2. How can manufacturers, packers, or distributors fulfill regulatory requirements (e.g. fair balance, disclosure of indication and risk information, postmarketing submission requirements) in their Internet and social media promotion, particularly when using tools that are associated with space limitations and tools that allow for real-time communications (e.g. microblogs, mobile technology)?
  3. What parameters should apply to the posting of corrective information on Web sites controlled by third parties?
  4. When is the use of links appropriate?
  5. Questions specific to Internet adverse event reporting.”
Two days of more than 75 presentations will attempt to cover the five questions. Speakers come from a range of categories: pharmaceutical, technology, research, advertising and others, as well as patient and consumer representatives. (For more background and updates on the hearing, follow NPR’s health blog Shots or the Wall Street Journal Health Blog.)

 

What’s also interesting about the hearing is how much the average member of the public can access within social media and on the Internet. There’s a live webcast of the hearing. A Twitter hashtag, #fdasm. A great site, http://www.fdasm.com/, compiled by Fabio Gratton of Ignite Health (@skypen on Twitter), which pulls together a live Twitter feed of the #fdasm hashtag and also includes robust information and links to additional resources such as a Google Docs spreadsheet with links to speakers’ materials.

 

Reporters and live updates are not allowed in the room (no reporters allowed, and no cell phone or wifi signals available), but in many ways, participating through these various social media channels allows a viewer a more robust picture and the ability to view the hearing and also to view and participate in the commentary about the hearing.

 

And there’s a lot of commentary about this event. For a few additional resources & people to follow online, check out:
Disclosure: Logos works with pharmaceutical and other health care companies.