Required Reading: Trends in News Consumption

The folks at Pew Research Center released a humdinger of study yesterday. If you know or work with someone that doubts that social, online and mobile are what will define the future of news, print this whole report out and give it to them.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

The part you want to highlight is right here:

That’s right, a thirteen percent decrease in TV news viewing, a twenty-three percent decline for newspapers, a twenty-one percent decrease for radio news.

Online and mobile news? In just eight years, the percent of those surveyed who got news today from online or mobile sources ROSE from twenty-four percent to thirty-nine percent.

In Silicon Valley terms, they call that “hockey stick growth.” The crazy thing about the growth in social news consumption is that it builds on itself. As more and more people use it and share news on their social networks, more and more people will get used to finding news online. From the report (I added the emphasis):

The second major trend in online news consumption is the rise of news on social networks. Today, 19% of the public says they saw news or news headlines on social networking sites yesterday, up from 9% two years ago. And the percentage regularly getting news or news headlines on these sites has nearly tripled, from 7% to 20%.

The article continues for FIVE MORE PAGES. Demographic studies, specific breakdowns of types of media (cable news is declining, weekly magazines rising), attitudes toward news, consumption habits (Did you know the older you are the more likely you are to get your news on a set schedule? Younger folks graze throughout the day.), on and on and on! For folks counting on the media landscape continuing as it has over the last twenty years, well, the research isn’t describing a pleasant future. We should start integrating this knowledge today.

Social Media, Replacement Referees and Crisis Comms

For those of us addicted to football (American football, my overseas friends), the current season has been tough to deal with. Due to a contract issue, the National Football League has locked their referees out and have installed replacement refs to adjudicate the games.

The results have been, as anticipated, not pretty. At the end of this week’s Monday night game (for my football fans that’s typically the biggest game of the week), the Seattle Seahawks quarterback heaved a pass to the end zone, hoping to score on the final play and win the game. A Green Bay Packers player seemingly came down with the ball, which was then wrestled away by a Seahawks player. One of the replacement referees called the play a touchdown, another called it an interception. In either case, the game was over, and who won was contingent upon the referees call.

The refs ruled that the Seahawks won. The social media world subsequently exploded.

A number of Green Bay Packers players tweeted their displeasure.

You can see in the picture above how, after midnight on the East Coast, how large of a response that event generated. The reason I post on this is the following line in a TechCrunch article posted this afternoon:

[T]he point is that NFL players took to Twitter first to voice their displeasure, rather than talking to mainstream press on camera. The tide has changed for how people communicate, and this is a perfect example.

I think that anyone who has been paying attention to crisis communications has seen this shift taking place. It’s just really nice to see that in stark terms (with pictures!) on a topic that a wide majority of Americans are interested in.

Update from Heather Brink (devoted Packers fan): According to the Twitter blog, the play in question generated more than one million tweets, and TJ Lang (the most vociferous tweeter in this matter) had more than 150,000 retweets himself. Truly viral.

Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication v2

I’ve been a big fan of the CDC’s Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication curriculum for a number of years. I even flew down to Atlanta once to get real, hands-on training on it. Developed in the aftermath of 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax attacks, the CDC gathered many of the smartest, most intelligent people in the fields of crisis communications and risk communication and banged on the problem of how to push out life saving information in, essentially, no time. What came out on the other side was as close to cutting edge as you could get. And it held up pretty well, too. The lessons didn’t require much tweaking but over time, especially in today’s five-second news cycle, it needed a rewrite.

And now they’ve finally published the 2012 version. (PDF download)

I’ll be in Washington next week to receive the inaugural training, so keep an eye out for my livetweets from the NPHIC Symposium. In the meantime, check out some of the other amazing tools on CERC that the CDC offers, including archived webinars, training modules and best practice reports.

Twitter Best Practices for Media

I’m constantly amazed by how reporters are rewriting how their field uses social media. I’ve talked about it before, about reporters using Twitter to find sources for breaking news. Scary, I know.

But they’re no longer integrating Twitter into their daily routines by themselves anymore. Twitter recently hired Mark Luckie as Manager of Journalism and News, and within the last week or so, he made a number of recommendations for reporters on how to use Twitter more effectively. This is important not only because it shows how much Twitter has become a primary tool for the media today, but because, well, those recommendations are useful for us, too.

Lauren Indvik from Mashable summarized the best points for us, but check out the full article for more:

Tweet your beat
Don’t only post your own stories
Live-tweet events
Use hashtags
Use @mentions
Use the re-tweet button

I have to say, I agreed wholeheartedly with all of the recommendations, except the last one. I’ve always tried to add my name or spin to tweets, but it looks like for just passing along info, a quick retweet might be all we need.

Here’s Ms. Indvik’s note on that (and remember, this is coming directly from Twitter):

Tweets that are re-tweeted in full using the automatic Retweet button are retweeted three times as often compared to tweets that are quoted.

Romney’s 47% Blindspot

Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I don’t think that Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s hidden camera, cough47%cough, gaffe is that crazy.

I think that people looking to get elected listen to their campaign managers who tell them to say what it takes to get elected and then deal with the clean-up later. (Wow, that sounds much worse out loud.) Politics is rough and tumble and everyone wants something different for their vote. Those who believe that everything a candidate says publicly is exactly what they believe and will promise to do is an idealist of the worst stripe.

Candidates have feelings and biases and idiosyncrasies that they tamp down or focus, depending on who they think is listening to them. In short, they’re human. There is no grand machination or cover-up here, they’re just like you and me. And you don’t get elected by telling people that their pet concern isn’t the candidate’s favorite thing in the whole world.

I don’t think this is a gaffe. I don’t think most of the things our media calls gaffes these days are really the candidates’s fault. (Even President Obama had his famous YouTube moment four years ago.) Instead, these are failures of the campaign.

Any campaign manager who tells his or her candidate to scathingly rebuke and insult 47% of the public and assume that audio or video coverage of it won’t get out isn’t worth the price of their $500 shoes. It’s their job to anticipate problems and mitigate them. And to think that YouTube isn’t the biggest potential problem is a blindspot the size of the moon. Every one of the last few Presidential candidates have had hidden camera moments show up on YouTube, how have they not yet learned?

I take two lessons from this situation.

Personal thoughts first, it’s the job of the executive to put the very best people in the most important positions. If you’re running for the office of President and you put someone who has forgotten about YouTube in charge of your image, I wonder about your judge of character (which is a bigger deal than insulting potential voters).

What this means for us as emergency communicators is the second lesson. In a Presidential campaign, all communications are emergency communications. The season is too short; the media interest is too high; think of your worst comms day and that’s every day in a campaign. I equate our jobs to that of the campaign manager, in an emergency, we tell the executive what to say, who to say it to, when and where to say it, we manage the media and media environment and ensure that our executive doesn’t insult 47% of the country.

What do we need to learn from this? Don’t forget YouTube, simply. There are no more privileged communications. If we’re speaking in front of an audience, we should assume that someone–with an axe to grind–is recording that speech. We need to train our spokespeople to speak intelligently and cognizantly ALWAYS. Rambling answers are what leads to disasters like this. Unfocused thoughts lead to this. “Winging it,” leads to this. We need to get better at protecting our spokespeople from themselves, lest we feel the wrath of a pissed off 47%