For those of us who consider journalists a key stakeholder group, we view scandals involving media outlets with almost a salacious fascination. We look for the names of people we know or recognize, we speculate endlessly about what the events mean to the future of the media and to our own personal strategies and tactics.
The truth is, most of the time media outlets are surprisingly tone deaf when a crisis lands on their own doorsteps. This is because the number one goal of a crisis is fundamentally at odds with what most media moguls see as their purpose in life. In a crisis, the goal is to make sure that, as President Lincoln would say, “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here.” But every reporter and editor in his/her soul, wants every word that we write to be long remembered.
As a former reporter who now looks at the media from a big data perspective, I can tell you that if most of the bad press hits on days one and two, and then fades away to page 10, chances are that the crisis will be soon forgotten. If it remains a page one story for a month, chances are pretty good that it will linger in people’s memories for a long time.
In the past year, both Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (no relation to my employer News Group) and U.K.’s BBC have spent considerable amount of time on Page 1. But how each company approached the crisis will have a long term impact on how much their respective brands are damaged by the crisis.
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