Thursday, June 25, 2009

Crisis communications - then and now -- and looking forward to Witnessing

Last night I guest lectured at the Fordham U, MBA program, in a class taught by David Kalson (on Twitter @kaldak). I went through my experience working with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2002-2005 during the clergy sexual abuse of children issue. Even though this experience was only a few years ago, it's clear how different it would be today because of social media.

TMZ posted that Michael Jackson was dead hours before mainstream media "confirmed" the story. I suppose that TMZ had a source in the UCLA hospital (or in the Jackson-family world). Huffington Post jumped on it and linked to TMZ an hour or more before any MSM confirmed it. Before I left my office tonight, my TweetDeck search for Michael Jackson was flooded with the news/rumor that MJ was dead -- long before MSM reported. When MSM reported the news it was -- "old news." However TMZ did it -- it was the first Witness.

All that said (niche/trivial) in the context of the little news/info we're getting out of Iran. (And out of Tibet, by the way.)

I'd suggest: "crisis communications" in the future is not going to be a battle just between the communications capabilities of "the victims" vs. the "victimizers" as reported by the 3-rd estate of the Media. There's a new Factor in all this: The Witnesses. With their flip-phone-videos and Twitter posts -- which, I'm sure, are just the first generation of Witnessing.

Suggestion for a change of reference: Forget about "reporting." We are now -- in the streaming world - "Witnessing."