Everyone who works in crisis communications, or who may experience a crisis, should read this posting.
The science of crisis communications got both faster, and more challenging with the advent of Twitter and the blogosphere. Citizen journalists can write a posting, or a micro-blog (Twitter) and within moments, their point of view on a topic can be carried along to thousands of other important stakeholders. In fact, if the posting mentions a publicly traded company, within a few moments a blurb will appear on the Yahoo or Google Finance page of that company with a link back to the blog.
Up until now, unless one is monitoring for a particular search term on Tweetdeck or Hootsuite or some other type of tool for tracking and organizing tweets, a people may start talking about a new development that can spread with uncanny speed and a crisis can unfold before you know it.
For that reason, tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are essentials for anyone who might experience a crisis in communications, though I wager that few in the pharmaceutical industry are using it to monitor what is being said about their brands or their companies for fear of seeing an adverse event. Nevertheless, the tools are important for monitoring – proactively to see if anyone mentions you and reactively to track messaging and velocity once a crisis has unfurled and is blowing in the wind. And, if you were afraid to monitor for what people are saying about your proactively, you may have reason now to be afraid of Googling yourself (that sounds funny doesn't it?).
That is because there was another innovation unveiled last week from the brilliant folks at Google (and yes, I am a slobbering Google fanatic). It is called Google's Real Time search and it changes search forever. That is because now, when you enter a search term into Google, you will be able to view real time entries, as they happen, on Twitter and in the blogosphere and on Web sites as well as on Facebook and MySpace.
In other words, you have a crisis unfolding. Let's say it involves one of your products, or your company. You go to Google and enter in your company's name. You will be able to see what people are saying about it in real time from multiple sources. You will capture messaging. You will see velocity. You will see identity. You will quite literally have your finger on the pulse of the crisis.
It is nothing short of remarkable. Look at it and change the way you view your crisis communications planning. The game just changed.