Crisis management, like so much else, will have to emphasize mobile


Forrester predicted last May that much of what we do is shifting to mobile, as my EMA partner Robin Farewell so helpfully noted lately. Though not the first to do so, the report carried authority and weight.

Journalism.org stepped up on the subject as well [thanks to EMA’s Peter Kapcio for the heads up] on how mobile will transform journalism.

If mobile is rearranging our lives, along with the journalism subset, crisis management better gear up as well.

The numbers are huge and growing. Some 22 percent of U.S. adults own a tablet, and twice that number own a smartphone [with obvious overlap.] Fifty percent of adults own either/or. And a whopping 66 percent get news daily [one would suggest hourly] via smartphone or tablet.

What does this mean or what will it mean for managing a crisis? Tons.

Good crisis management is first about speed. Disseminating facts fast is the first step. Mobile devices — especially through texts, email access 24/7, Twitter and Facebook — are all about speed. But you have to recognize the gross accessibility to maximize the net opportunity.

Mobile also means easy, quick access to internal audiences — the often forgotten keys to successful crisis control. Colleges and universities, with their obvious internal constituents’ fluency with mobile devices, are in the forefront of such efforts, though they remain far from fluent. Over the weekend, a freshman at Brockport State died and the college effectively used email, texts and rapid response information flows to students, staff and parents.

What the shift to mobile also means is that crisis managers must emphasize not only speed, but brevity and pointedness. If your whole crisis rebuttal strategy comes down to 140 characters that should have gone out half an hour ago, you’d best come to the point.

This is not to say that newspapers, deep magazine pieces and a 60 Minutes interview should be pulled from your quiver, but those can no longer suffice.

Yet mobile prevalence clearly debases the power of those traditional media the same way seeing a front-page newspaper story this morning that you read about online yesterday afternoon does.

It’s too much too late.

We live in the era of first impressions. We rely, whether we fully realize it, on the first word. That first word once meandered out from the three national networks’ evening newscasts, or on the front page of a national newspaper. Today they’re instantaneous, nearly uncontrollable, and might include a damaging picture or video you had nothing to do with and can’t control.

Tough formula for successful crisis management, but a lot more controllable if you understand it, plan for it and emphasize it.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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