Category Archives: Social Responsibility

6 media planning rules you should break – iMediaConnection.com

6 media planning rules you should break – iMediaConnection.com.

Interesting article written by Jay Friedman is the COO of Goodway Group, a third-generation, family-owned company that operates the Custom Audience Platform, an on-demand digital-media infrastructure designed to help clients …

In a flash, things we’ve simply “known to be true” all our lives are turned upside down. Take the assumed theories in psychology that were disrupted with the technological leaps forward in 1990s brain science. Or assumptions about disease or heredity before the Human Genome Project was completed. In an instant we had to rethink what we thought we knew. With digital media now creeping up to near 50 percent of our eye and mindshare time, it’s more important than ever to do a double-take with some tried and true media planning “absolutes.”

image: http://www.imediaconnection.com/images/content/38870.jpg

“Invest significant time in annual media planning.”

If your business (or your client’s business) relies on annual budget planning, there is no way to relieve yourself from all annual planning. That said, you can and should significantly lighten the load. Think about the various disruptive, significant emerging properties that have launched in the past 10 years. Facebook, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube, Twitter, and the list goes on. Not only could you not have planned for their launch, but it was next to impossible to plan for their acculturation point, or the time at which it became a “had to have” on a media plan. What if a tipping point occurs in March? Do you wait until next year to include it in your plan? No way. The same goes for ad tech, whether fighting fraud or implementing a newly available creative format.

Determine annual goals? Yes. Determine annual strategies? Yes. Determine your tactics once per year? No. And certainly don’t buy publishers annually. In fact, I’d urge you to not even be as rigid as quarterly. If a publisher or vendor is a pain to work with, and you feel there is a better alternative, why wait until the end of the quarter? If a new property bursts onto the scene in April after your Q2 plan is done, you may need to rearrange your budget. Media consumption is fluid, and our plans need to match.

“Make sure you carefully plan your digital media to match your target audience.”

You may remember the case study from years ago that showed a big screen TV campaign’s best converting audience was “military.” This is because the time of year the client was advertising was a time when military bonuses were paid. The client originally targeted sports and technology enthusiasts but later shifted to include this newly discovered audience and the campaign performance improved.

As carefully as you plan your audience using case studies and research tools, each campaign you launch will tell you more about your audience than you could have planned for. That’s because every campaign you launch likely has different creative, seasonality characteristics, and other factors. This isn’t to say it’s best to run pure RON or ROS and just “see what happens.” There are certainly very good tools to help you pre-optimize your buy. The key is not to go beyond the point of diminishing return in spending your time honing and refining your audience, or to plan so narrowly that there is no room for audience discovery either.

“Take a meeting with almost any digital media vendor. You could be missing something.”

Taking a 5-minute phone call with any digital media vendor who calls is reasonable. Every vendor should be able to establish a point of difference in that amount of time that enables you to decide whether or not a meeting is beneficial. If there is no chance you’re going to work with a vendor, it’s wasting both your time and the vendor’s. As much as salespeople don’t like hearing “no,” good salespeople will tell you they’d rather hear “no” than “maybe” because it allows them to spend time with clients and prospects who become an important part of their business.

This extends to RFPs. The most efficient RFP process tells a vendor exactly what criteria to meet to get on the plan. Demanding specific criteria on an RFP that is extended to fewer vendors allows for greater, deeper interaction between the agency and those vendors throughout the RFP process. This leads to better ideas, better plans, and better results for clients.

“Create buckets for media vendors.”

I was talking with an agency person at an event last night. We were talking about heritage and ethnicity and she said, “It’s like when I filled out college applications. They asked me to fill in the circle next to the race I was, but there was no ‘mixed’ option.” Similarly, in ad tech, the answer is now more often “it’s complicated” than a straight up, well-defined, bucketable category. On one hand, it behooves media vendors to bucket themselves so agencies quickly and easily understand how they might work with that vendor. On the other hand, advertisers want their agencies to demonstrate greater mental elasticity when evaluating a new vendor, taking the time to understand gray area and overall value rather than requiring a neat fit.

“Be focused on your ultimate objective.”

We can file “awareness and sales” under the “If I had a dollar every time…” category when asking clients about their campaign objectives. Don’t get me wrong. Those are perfectly fine objectives as long as there is a specific and identified method for measurement. Usually, though, measuring awareness (brand studies) or sales (match back against a control) takes months. In the meantime, why not take advantage of the dimensional depth digital media offers?

If you’re a hospital, “heads in beds” is your goal, but pixeling the “locate a doc” page is a good mid-funnel metric to guide your efforts. Car dealership? “Hours and directions” is a great mid-funnel guidepost. These exist in nearly every industry. Take the time to plan with dimension and you’ll be rewarded with richer metrics and better end results.

“Keep it to standard display with small budgets.”

I wouldn’t have thought this was a rule that even needed breaking! After hearing this from a number of different agencies it merited inclusion. Online display may be the oldest digital media ad unit but that doesn’t mean it’s foundational. The foundation of any media plan is your audience’s media consumption and receptivity within those media consumption windows. If your audience is best connected with mobile, use mobile. It might be mobile search, banners, or video. These decisions depend on the complexity of your message, how well established your brand is, and the length of the consideration cycle for your product.

Breaking these six rules requires two things. The first is reconsidering how we approach media planning in the first place. The second is thinking about our plans in many more dimensions than just “I have money. I need to spend it efficiently.” Change is hard, but those who want to be better than their peers and win in the market will find a way and inspire those around them to join in.

Jay Friedman is the COO of Goodway Group.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

A wall is broken through by a fist” image via Shutterstock.

Read more at http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/38870.asp?imcid=nl#singleview#l8Er0HLyB7yhYhiR.99

CEOs Under Attack? A Lesson in Corporate Communications from GM & Apple.

CEOs Under Attack? A Lesson in Corporate Communications from GM & Apple.

Editor’s Note:  With media focus on GM CEO Mary Barra and Apple CEO Tim Cook, CommPRO reached out to our community to get their commentary about diversity in the c-suite.  

By David E. Johnson,CEO, Strategic Vision, LLC

First it was Matt Lauer on The Today Show asking General Motors’ CEO Mary Barra if she could handle being a mother and CEO and was she selected as the CEO of General Motors because the company wanted a “maternal presence”.  Next it was Apple’s Tim Cook on CNBC, being publicly outed as a gay man.  The social media response towards the media was that of outrage and disgust with these incidents.  Yet in both incidents the media stood by the interviews.

Why is this?  What should corporate communicators learn by this and put into practice in response?

The first question is easy to answer.  Despite strides made by women and minorities, the corporate boardroom is still largely dominated by white men whose ages range from the 50s to the 60s.  The corporate mindset is to not shake things up and interviews are about the company not about the CEO’s personal life.  Likewise despite the transformation in America regarding the LGBT community, the corporate boardroom remains largely untouched in this category.  Yet this is changing, as is the concept that a CEO’s personal life is largely not part of a company’s story.

Image of CEOs Under Attack?  A Lesson in Corporate Communications from GM & Apple.This is no longer true.  Consumers are buying the story of a brand and also that of the storyteller – the CEO.  Consumers expect not only to know the brand message but also the story of the CEO, President, or Chairman of the Board who communicates the brand message.  This means all aspects of a CEO’s life is subject to media scrutiny.  Additionally, as this happens those who do not fit the corporate stereotype of old will find they are under greater media interrogation.

Is this fair?  No.  But it is the nature of our society, with a far more intrusive media operating, 24/7, social media, and citizen journalists with blogs.

Corporate communicators need to understand this changing dynamic and help affect a change in the corporate culture of companies.  Corporations need to recognize that society has changed.  The fact that a woman can be both a CEO and mother is no different than a male being both a CEO and father.  Indeed, in this post recession society, many mothers are now the primary wage winner and the father is the stay at home parent.  Corporations need to reflect and understand this dynamic.  As they do, the media questions will begin to change.  But for this to happen, the companies must reflect in their leadership and their culture the changes that are occurring in society.

Executives need to know that their lives will be examined under a microscope.  The best thing to do is address personal issues proactively.  Cook’s sexual preference should never have been outed on a national interview but the better course would have been for Cook to address this long before this, very much as football player, Michael Sam addressed his sexuality.  Sexuality will continue to attract curiosity until corporate cultures reflect the changes we see in society.  For this to happen, corporate communications must work in tandem with the executive leadership in conveying the message and new culture.

Yes, Mary Barra and Tim Cook seemed under attack this past week.  Not because of anything they had done as CEOs but rather because they don’t resemble the CEOs of old, just as America doesn’t reflect the nation it was in the 1990s.  For others who will resemble Cook and Barra, following in their footsteps, the challenge must be to communicate to the media and consumers that it’s a new culture in the boardroom.

 

 About the Author:  David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision, LLC, a public relations and branding agency that specializes in crisis communications, branding, and media relations.  Additional information on Johnson and Strategic Vision, LLC may be obtained at www.strategicvision.biz.

GM CEO Barra’s Crisis Management Failure – What NOT To Do During A Press Conference

GM CEO Barra’s Crisis Management Failure – What NOT To Do During A Press Conference.

Editor’s Note: Crisis communications expert David Johnson shares his latest analysis of the ongoing GM recall crisis.  To gain more insight on the situation, click here to read David’s post, “GM’s Crisis Management Scorecard.”

Image of GM CEO Barras Crisis Management Failure – What NOT To Do During A Press ConferenceBy David E. Johnson,CEO, Strategic Vision, LLC

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors has been attempting to give a new face and brand identity toGeneral Motors since taking her position.  In her initial response to a crisis that had resulted in 13 acknowledged deaths and the recall of over 2.6 million vehicles, Barra had scored high marks with the media, stockholders, employees, and consumers by showing empathy, taking responsibility, and reaching out to all key stakeholders in her initial response.  That is why her announcement of the results of an internal investigation that led to the recall and her answers to reporters’ questions seemed lacking and unable to shake the crisis.  In many ways, Barra, the new face of the automaker resembled the old General Motors.

What did she and General Motors do wrong with the press conference and her answers to reporters regarding the company’s internal investigation?

 

Twittiquette: Keep Your Tweets Professional And Personable

Twittiquette: Keep Your Tweets Professional And Personable.

 

Happy Wednesday!  Interesting article today from Luke O’Neill, editor at Business Wire Boston, about the importance of being professional and personal when composing a new tweet. Your words can come back to haunt you when you least expect it. — Pete Cento, The Cento Group 

POSTED ON MAY 6, 2014 IN SOCIAL MEDIASOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS & TRENDS | 0 COMMENTS

Image of Twittiquette: Keep Your Tweets Professional And PersonableBy Luke O’Neill, Editor, Business Wire

This is why we need to master Twittiquette

She flew thousands of miles from London to Cape Town, South Africa, but sadly her tweet traveled much farther.

The story of Justine Sacco is well known in public relations circles. She’s the former PR executive who sent an inappropriate tweet last December and boarded a long flight apparently with no Internet access. Her tweet went viral in a bad way.

Once Sacco’s tweet was exposed, Twitter users perused past tweets and found other offensive posts. At the time, her Twitter profile in part read “troublemaker on the side.” Evidently this day it was her troublemaker persona taking center stage. Then, abruptly, her Twitter account was terminated – and so was she.

Sacco’s story could happen to anyone regardless of the industry; but PR pros are in the public eye more than others and so are their blunders. With Twitter, be professional and personable, but most of all be careful.

In assessing the Sacco fallout, a CNN story observed: “The incident was a glaring reminder that every word uttered on the Internet can be heard by seemingly everyone on the Internet, sometimes with serious consequences.”

Image of Twittiquette: Keep Your Tweets Professional And PersonableIntention vs. Interpretation

You may intend a tweet to be snarky, funny or whatever, but readers may interpret it differently. It’s best to be clear and straightforward rather than sarcastic or jokey while also not being vanilla. A balance needs to be struck. Like an email, a tweet’s tone can be tricky to decipher since no one can see you roll your eyes after a sarcastic jab.

Another quandary within Twitter is your personality might not always match your “professionality,” but it’s still important to stay genuine and not contrived. And yet with some forms of PR, it’s OK to have an edge, you just can’t have that edge be too sharp.

“Whether your Twitter account is work related or not, you’ve got to keep it professional,” Peter Stringer, senior director of digital media at the Boston Celtics, wrote in an email. “If you work in PR and don’t understand that one misguided tweet can potentially bring down a reputation, brand, company or your career – whether you have 10 followers or 10,000 – I would suggest you find another line of work.”

Stringer manages the team’s main Twitter account with its 1.4 million followers. He said it’s vital for marketing and PR pros to respect their companies’ brand.

“In today’s day and age of personal branding, people are representing their employers, whether they know it or like it or not,” said Stringer. “And along those lines, if your name and company is associated with your Twitter account, people are going to make the connection.”

Disclaimers ‘Meaningless’

A growing sentiment among Twitter users is the oft-used profile disclaimer – “Tweets are my own and do not reflect my company’s views” – is not sufficient. After all, these disclaimers are not included in every tweet.

“A disclaimer in your Twitter bio is meaningless,” said Stringer. “They certainly don’t exempt you from having poor judgment. If an employee tweets something offensive and goes viral and creates a dust-up, like it or not, they’re a reflection of their employer. The employer will find itself under pressure to distance itself from that employee. You’re probably going to get fired.”

In addition, there seems to be some debate whether PR pros should even have their own personal Twitter accounts while also maintaining a professional client account.

Some bloggers have argued that PR pros should have just one professional Twitter account and keep personal interests off the grid. But others, like SHIFT Communications marketing analyst Amanda Grinavich, feel personal accounts can help PR pros connect with reporters and display interests outside of work.

“However,” she added in an email, “any time you are tweeting as a known employee of a company, people will associate you with that company. This doesn’t mean you’re tied down to speaking only about that client or brand, but it does mean any poor choices you make could fall back on the company. Overall, the balance comes down to using good judgment.”

In a blog, Grinavich pointed out: “We can’t really imagine how you can do your job in PR or marketing without using Twitter in your own way to learn about how things work on both sides of the coin – business and personal.”

Help is Here

Stringer added this social media caveat: “You’re representing yourself. Every tweet, selfie, blog is leaving a digital paper trail that will last forever. Our children’s children will someday read that subtweet that went viral when they Google us with their brain – or however that technology works in 2064.”

Lastly, a Mashable post has some helpful Twitter etiquette guidelines, including: Treat your Twitter posts as though your parents, grandparents and bosses were reading.

And ever delve into the recesses of Twitter’s help center? It’s chockfull of helpful hints and rigid rules. A couple lines stand out: “What you say on Twitter may be viewed all around the world instantly,” and “You are what you Tweet!”

Tweet tips: Five quick ways to maintain professionalism on Twitter:

1. Never post when you’re upset.

2. Don’t engage in a negative discussion until you have all the facts

3. Everyone is human.

4. If you would not say it to your grandmother or CEO, don’t tweet it.

5. Tweets are forever.

Feel like tweeting now? Why not tweet this article?

 

About the Author: Luke O’Neill is an editor at Business Wire Boston. Admittedly, he is fairly new to Twitter (@ONeillNews) but has a master’s degree in multimedia journalism and nearly 15 years of communications experience. 

Understanding Twitter’s Impact, and Commitment, to Traditional Media (And Why PR Pros Should Care)

Interesting article written by Serena Ehrlich with Business Wire about how Twitter is evolving in 2014 to become a news conduit and research tool for reporters and the public.  Ehrlich goes on to explain that despite the ability to share news quickly and in real-time, Twitter is not interested in scooping reporters. Instead, Twitter is focusing on facilitating the sharing of news between creator and consumer. — Pete Cento

Understanding Twitter’s Impact, and Commitment, to Traditional Media (And Why PR Pros Should Care).

POSTED ON APR 16, 2014 IN SOCIAL MEDIA PR 

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social & Evolving Media, Business Wire

Last month, The National Newspaper Association kicked off their annual conference with a presentation from Twitter’s head of news services, Vivian Schiller. In her keynote, Vivian outlined several upcoming changes within the Twitter news and newsfeed services, introduced Twitter’s new local news initiative and provided tips for journalists on how to leverage Twitter to build their audience and brand.

“News is important to every person on the planet, but for each person, the definition of news that’s important to them is going to be different.” Vivian Schiller, Twitter

One of the top goals for Twitter in 2014 is not to become a news service, but to become a news conduit and a research tool.  Despite the ability to share news quickly and in real-time, Twitter is not interested in scooping reporters. Instead, Twitter is focusing on facilitating the sharing of news between creator and consumer.  In 2014, Twitter is expanding its partnerships to include local media, a big step up from previous years where Twitter focused more heavily on larger media properties. This partnership includes providing easier access to Twitter verification,  taking a second look at the follower caps placed on some accounts and even promotional assistance to outlets breaking a larger story.

Image of Understanding Twitter’s Impact, and Commitment, to Traditional Media (And Why PR Pros Should Care) “Every reporter, every editor should be their own social media editor”

To ensure media outlets can maximize their presence and reach on Twitter, Vivian also shared a series  of best practices and tips to increase reader engagement and widen the news reach.  The top tips for today’s journalists looking to build a brand on Twitter include:

Twitter lists provide a better user experience:  One of the best ways to utilize Twitter is to create lists based on industry or geography or both.  Once the lists are set up reporters can easily scroll through each list for story ideas, to see what is resonating within key audiences, and which individuals are the most influential within their core topic.  And you can add people (or competitors!) to lists without following them, allowing you to maintain the integrity of your core news feed.

Multimedia increases views and shares:  One of the fastest, and easiest ways to increase views, retweets and click throughs on a Tweet is to include multimedia.  In fact, Vivian noted that within the media community, tweets with photos and video lift engagement by 27%

Twitter Cards are a reporter’s best friend and better branding  Twitter cards enhance a tweet, especially those that include images or video by providing more than just the traditional 140-characters.  Links to articles, for example, now include the media outlet name and logo, the byline and more.  These cards are perfect for reporters!  Not only do they enhance the story being shared, Twitter cards build branding for both the reporter and their media outlet.  Did we mention they are free to use?

Twitter builds your media brand:  One of the biggest ways for reporters to increase their own impact and visibility is by building a relationship with their social media fans and readers.  To do this, it is important for every reporter, every social media platform user to take the time to build relationships with their audience.  The fastest way to build a social following is to thank those who share our your news articles, be engaging and talk to your readers, send tweets with companies you may be interested in covering, utilize hashtags to enter larger conversations and live tweet big events such as keynote discussion.  For additional ways to reporters to build their audience on Twitter, read this article by Poynter.

Twitter tracks your success:  Measuring successful tweets on social media is an ongoing challenge.  Initial metrics include follower and overall conversation counts, but those that focus actions taken by the reader, including article sharing, article advocacy and feedback provide a better story. It is these engagements that increase article shares, build loyal readership and drive the inbound traffic needed to meet most media properties overall revenue metrics.

News is going mobile:  A huge majority of Twitter users access the platform from their mobile device.  This means readers are taking journalists and news with them throughout their day. Today’s readers consume news throughout the day and night, regardless of location. Reporters who utilize and share news articles on Twitter can reach any interested party now, no matter where the reader is.

There are more than 500 billion tweets sent every day.

For the last 50 years, we at Business Wire have watched, first hand, the continual evolution of the news industry. It is in our DNA to understand that while news distribution and consumption methods are ever changing, the need for news will never abate.  We are very excited to see Twitter expanding their media partnership to include smaller, local publications and can’t wait to work with journalists and reporters as they continue to maximize their reach and presence on Twitter.  Have questions on how media outlets can better utilize Twitter to showcase articles, stories or press releases?  Let us know!

 About the Author: Over the last 20 years, Serena Ehrlich has worked closely with public and private companies providing guidance on investor and public relation trends. Serena has implemented local, national and international social media and marketing campaigns for a wide range of company and brands including Mogreet, LuxuryLink, Viking River Cruises, the unincorporated city of Marina del Rey, Kraft, Kohl’s, Avon, Mattel and more. Serena started her career in advertising where she developed an understanding of branding from a large-scale perspective, but it was her 14 years in the newswire industry that placed her squarely at the forefront of a technical, sociological and influential revolution changing the face of customer communications. In 1994, Serena was part of a small team who introduced the communications industry to the Internet via a series of first-ever conferences, Her love of technology based communications hasn’t stopped since. As the director of social and evolving media at Business Wire, Serena has a unique insight in the content lifestyle – from creation to consumption. In addition, Serena serves as the Corporate Secretary of the international Social Media Club board of directors, President of Social Media Club Los Angeles, as well as social chair for the National Investor Relations Institutes’ Los Angeles chapter and is a frequent speaker at analyst and business conferences alike on the topics of mobile, payments and social.. She can be found on Twitter (@serena)

Lessons To Be Learned From The Chris Christie Crisis: You Have Responded

Lessons To Be Learned From The Chris Christie Crisis: You Have Responded.

Lessons To Be Learned From The Chris Christie Crisis: You Have Responded

Editor’s Note: CommPRO.biz encourages and welcomes debate on issues that are relevant to our community. Yesterday, the Governor of New Jersey stepped up to the podium to address an issue that in his own words “side lined” him. As the CEO of a state, that caught our attention. So we reached out to our community and posed a number of questions relating to management. They included:

  • Is Any CEO Totally In Control?
  • Should They Be?
  • How Can They Be?
  • Trust. Can We Depend On it?

CommPRO.biz is pleased to share these commentaries:

How to Stop Gov. Chris Christie’s ViralBy Adele Cehrs, CEO of Epic PR Group

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Takes Charge in a Crisis: All Eyes on Gov. as Bridge Crisis UnravelsBy Cindy Rakowitz, CEO, BR Public Relations and co-author Emergency Public Relations; Crisis Management in a 3.0 World

Unanswered Questions: Governor Chris Christie:  By David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision, LLC

Chris Christie’s Press Conference: Being First. My View… By Ronn Torrossian, CEO, 5W PR

Building and Losing Trust During A CrisisBy Davia B. Temin, President and CEO, Temin and Company

Own-Up and Take Control: Kudos Governor Christie!By Adam J. Handelsman, President & Founder, SpecOps Communications

Lessons To Learn In Governor Christie’s Crisis ManagementBy Mark Stevens, Author of “Your Marketing Sucks,”& CEO of MSCO

Honest Communications. A Dream?Observations from Honesty Expert, Steven Gaffney

SeaWorld Crisis Management: The Textbook Case of What NOT To Do

SeaWorld Crisis Management: The Textbook Case of What NOT To Do.

SeaWorld Crisis Management: The Textbook Case of What NOT To Do

Image of SeaWorld Crisis Management:  The Textbook Case of What NOT To Do By David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision, LLC

In today’s world a crisis plays out as much on social media, as it does through traditional media.  Brands and companies need a strategy for both.  Yet many never fully consider the social media aspect.  The ongoing crisis for SeaWorld is a case in point.  They have mishandled both their traditional and social media response with no end to the crisis in sight.

Image of SeaWorld Crisis Management:  The Textbook Case of What NOT To Do SeaWorld’s crisis began with the airing of the film, Blackfish on CNN.  Blackfish exposed practices at the aquatic park, including an exposé about whales in captivity and the orca-related death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.  SeaWorld’s response to the film was to lash out at it before it actually aired by sending a critique to film critics.  Company executives had also refused to be interviewed for the film.  This was a wrong way to deal with the brewing crisis as it created more attention for the film.

Next began the online protests in reaction to what the film depicted with Facebook pages being established calling for a boycott of the sea park until SeaWorld changed its policies.  Posters on SeaWorld’s Facebook page who expressed concern or disapproval of SeaWorld’s policies saw their posts deleted.  SeaWorld wouldn’t even address their concerns.  Rather as part of their crisis communications response they began highlighting the good work they have done for animal rescues (which was never disputed).  Consumers who saw their posts deleted were outraged causing further social media commentary of the story.  Social media allows corporations and brands to directly engage consumers during a crisis.  Allowing consumers to voice their opinion as long as it is civil allows consumers to be engaged and often helps level off anger.  Explaining a company’s position on social media is critical.  Ignoring the crisis and the consumer comments or in this case deleting them, keeps the flames going, as SeaWorld found out.

Consumers began contacting musical acts that were scheduled to perform SeaWorld’s “Bands, Brew & BBQ” series, one of the park’s biggest events.  Social media petitions began with one getting over 12,000 members urging the acts to cancel.  The musicians took notice.  Barenaked Ladies, Heart, Willie Nelson and others cancelled their scheduled appearances.  Singer Joan Jett asked the park to stop using her song “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” during its “Shamu Rocks”.  SeaWorld’s response was to criticize the musical acts, attack the people using social media to protest their policies and state that park attendance was being affected.  Yet they refused to engage consumers or deal with the issues raised in Blackfish through traditional media.

Next a California school class cancelled a field trip to SeaWorld because of concerns over the issues raised in Blackfish.  SeaWorld responded by saying this was an isolated incident and disparaging the class.  Students from across the country took to YouTube calling for SeaWorld to change its policies and again SeaWorld remained silent.

The latest blow has been an online poll that the Orlando Business Journal posted an online poll asking if reader’s if their opinion of SeaWorld had been affected by the controversy.  Fifty-four percent of voters who voted no, were traced back to a SeaWorld ip address (note don’t try to rig a newspaper poll and use your ip address, the paper may become suspicious).  The result more bad press and ongoing social media controversy.

SeaWorld is becoming the textbook case of what not to do in a crisis.  Social media as much as traditional media drives narratives.  Ignoring the consumer and not engaging them on social media doesn’t make the crisis go away, rather it keeps it alive.  Now more than ever, when developing a crisis communications plan, the social media element must be incorporated into the plan.

 About the Author:  David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision, LLC, a public relations and branding agency that specializes in crisis communications, branding, and media relations.  Additional information on Johnson and Strategic Vision, LLC may be obtained at www.strategicvision.biz.