I live in Norman, Oklahoma. There’s a small university here and the University of Oklahoma is pretty good at football. The Sooners played Alabama in the Sugar Bowl two weeks ago. (A Thursday evening.) While friends were relishing the upset victory, a video starts popping up on social media. An Alabama fan goes crazy on an OU student. Friday afternoon a story is posted – Bama Sugar Bowl mom ‘sorry’ but would ‘do it again if I had to’. Okay, sympathy for the mom? Wait… have you seen this video – the Crazy Bama Mom BEFORE attacking OU student? All of that played out through social media within 36 to 48 hours. Anyone pay attention? The first video has been viewed nearly 3 million times. The Yellowhammer story has more than 2,000 comments. Who knows how many views? And the third video has been viewed 391,000 times. (Warning: videos and comments contain offensive images and language.)
So what? What if the headline is “attraction GM goes crazy on family” or “restaurant owner goes crazy on diners” or “salmonella outbreak after banquet at Yourville convention center”? We never know what is going to set something off or when a mobile phone is recording. What could it be that potentially embarrasses the destination? Maybe it’s not even an embarrassing situation. Perhaps it’s a hurricane that hits the Gulf or massive flooding in the east or ice storm just before the Super Bowl? Welcome to your job in the NOW World! What do you need to prepared to work in the NOW World?
1. You need to be ready… ready now… ready now for anything! You need to have an emergency public relations plan. The next chance you get, lock yourself away with your staff and imagine the 20 worst scenarios. Just scan the headlines: water poison, bed bugs, salmonella, tornado, hurricane, scandal… Then think of the 20 you’d never think of – Crazy Bama Mom. Doubt the Alabama Alumni office wasn’t prepared for that one! Talk through what your response should/would be for each situation. Type them up and store them away.
2. You need to realize we’re not in an 8am to 5pm job any longer. Tornadoes don’t strike during business hours. Videos of drunk fans go viral at any time! If you’re the PR / Communications person for your office, you need to understand that you may be called back in even though it’s after 5pm or it’s during the weekend. And if it needs reminding, comments on Facebook don’t end at 5pm, people don’t clock out and quit posting and watching videos on YouTube, and tweets are tweeted 24/7.
3. You need to understand that you can’t be passive any longer. We are not in control of the message any more! They are and they can post, tweet, pin, comment anything they want – and they do. It’s as Dan Patrick said numerous times on Sportscenter: You can’t stop him. You can only hope to contain him.
4. For the messages you are trying to control, you need to understand social media is not posting something once a day and never going back to view the comments or looking at it the next day when you sign in to post another message. Social media is not loading up Hootsuite on Monday and never participating in the conversation. (And if Hootsuite is your only portal to social media, I’d suggest shutting it down now.) Social media is monitoring 24/7 or if you’re a small office, 16 to 18/7.
5. You need to understand you don’t have a private life any longer. Can you cringe with me just imagining if that Crazy Bama Fan was your employee? No, this isn’t a case of bad press is good press! The press would love to run “Executive Director of CVB is Crazy Bama Fan”. And your personal social media accounts aren’t personal either. Don’t believe me? Just ask Justine Sacco. We have a cool job that allows us to experience a lot of cool things but the bad news is we don’t have a private life any longer.
Those are my initial thoughts of our working now in a NOW World. Did I miss one or two? Leave your comments below and thanks for reading!