As brands grapple with a shifting media landscape in the face of a global pandemic, Proof Strategies provides a quick go-to guide on how to ramp up media monitoring efforts to remain proactive and thoughtful in the face of a crisis.
Are you wondering how to tackle media monitoring during a crisis, like a Coronavirus outbreak? Let’s look at how Gotham City handled their latest crisis.
Let’s say you are the head of communications at Arkham Asylum reporting up to the CEO. The Joker has long been wreaking havoc all over town, except this time, he has now escaped from Arkham. Now all of a sudden, the Asylum is being mentioned by name in The Gotham Gazette, and it is not on message. By a long shot.
Here’s what to do:
#1 | Develop Crisis Specific Keywords
Now, you may already have an industry-specific set of keywords that you monitor for on a daily basis to track coverage and topics of interest in any given sector. However, if there is ever a time to pivot, it is when things aren’t going as planned. Now is the time to tailor your search terms to align with the exact terms most reporters are using when covering this crisis. The same applies to social media, is there a new hashtag that has sprung up that now needs to be tracked?
For example, if you normally monitor for:
- Arkham Asylum
- Arkham Asylum Cost
- Arkham Asylum Patient Care
- Arkham Asylum Regression Therapy
You may have to alter your key terms to something like this:
- Arkham Asylum Joker
- Arkham Asylum Joker Escaped
- Joker On The Run
It is important to never assume that your old keywords would be broad enough to simply cover all relevant news. Tailoring terms to fit a current crisis will position you on the offense rather than the defense when moving into making a decision about a public response as it will allow you to get the news more quickly.
#2 | Create a Working Timeline to Benchmark Coverage
When a situation is rapidly evolving, it can be tempting to cater your response to whatever news is right in front of you, rather than gathering the needed information for the bigger picture. In order to comprehensively respond to the many situations which will arise in any crisis, it is vital to take a step back and map out its evolution so that any proactive next steps are not missing a key element.
Take the situation in Gotham for example:
While the Gotham Gazette is reporting that the Joker escaped all on his own, the Daily Planet has begun to report that he may have had inside help. Only by knowing all of these conflicting narratives, and when they each began, can you start to build out what you actually need to respond to.
#3 | Provide End of Day High-Level Coverage Reports
The CEO will want to know the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to your day-end reports. Providing a daily round-up of coverage will not only put their mind at ease by keeping them informed, but it will be easier for you to work together to come up with a relevant response by having all the information on hand. There is no need to go overboard, but rather systemically putting together a one-sheet memo at the end of the day will make everyone’s life easier and allow for benchmarking against past coverage when it is all in one place.
Here is an example:
Traditional media coverage is mostly tracking the chronology of events at the asylum initially with stronger editorializing as Harvey Dent began to weigh in. The coverage significantly picked up on March 24 when Harley Quinn was seen in a chase with the Police. Gotham City PD did not release any public statement with the exception of engaging on Twitter to rationalize the shootout that subsequently occurred on a public street.
The most active social platform was Twitter, followed by Facebook. The Asylum was mentioned by public officials, Gotham City PD, media outlets, and other outside individuals who took an interest in the Joker’s escape. Some of the posts that mentioned the Asylum called into question the institution’s ability to keep its patients safe. Individuals also mentioned the Asylum when expressing concern that the Joker was back on the street. The hashtag #JokerEscaped has been garnering significant traction online, mostly by concerned citizens, and we will continue to monitor it daily.
#4 | Utilize Tools to Summarize Coverage During a High Tide
Search tools like Newswhip or Google Alerts can be incredibly useful in crisis as they systematize the process so more time can be spent on figuring out the best plan of attack. By setting up a Google News Alert for three times a day for the term “Arkham Asylum” any mentions will be delivered straight to your inbox. Similarly building out a crisis specific Newswhip dashboard can help systematically pull coverage, all of which can be filtered down by location, language, time frame, and media velocity.
Take a look:
#5 | Stay Calm, but Speak Up Early
Now you have done all the nitty-gritty work of gathering all the information. When is the right time to speak up? Check out our part 2 blog on crisis key messaging coming soon but we will leave you with this: early is always better. Transparency with your audience is what builds relationships and in a time of uncertainty is what keeps them. Until next time, Gothamites.
Your voice and leadership will be the calm in the storm that stakeholders, employees, and members may need as we all adjust to a new normal. Proof Strategies has developed COVID-19 Communications Response and Planning Guides for both nonprofit organizations and corporations that we hope will be helpful as you plan your communications during the public health crisis.