We do both positive, proactive PR and issues and crisis communication here at AHA. And for these two very different sides of communication, there are many similarities in how we approach them.
One key element for both proactive PR and issues and crisis communication is to pay close attention to the response that is created from the announcement, information or campaign.
Traditional media coverage often provides the opportunity for the community to weigh in, to provide comments online and, sometimes, to vote on a survey. And, of course, Facebook and Twitter provide a great deal of insight into how people are feeling. For an issue or crisis, critical information can be found in the comments.
It is also important to watch when the news being shared is positive. Sometimes, when it comes to comments, no news is good news – but if you have just launched a product or service to consumers and there is no “buzz” about it in the comments or on social media, there should be a concern that no one but you cares.
For both positive news and issues and crisis response, looking at the comments lets you understand the needs and expectations of the public. You may have to wade through a few haters (those people who comment on anything and everything and always have something negative to say), but it’s worth your time. You can get insights that you couldn’t have received in real time before news became more interactive with social media.
Don’t just read the coverage; read the comments. Follow the social media updates and see how they are being shared. There is a wealth of information out there and it’s all available to you.