Franchise Storytellers

5 Implications of Today’s Exploding Viral Media and What it Means to You

Someone May be Criticizing You Even While on the Toilet

Every minute of the day users share 400 hours of new video on YouTube, send nearly 10,000 emoji-filled tweets and post 3.5 million text messages. If that makes you dizzy…consider this…more than one in two social media users update their accounts on the toilet!

If you play any role in your organization’s communications –- behind the scenes or as a frontline spokesperson – you should be alarmed. More than ever, an organization’s future is tied to what people are saying about it. That’s why getting next-generation media and crisis training is so imperative.

Today’s viral media environment is evolving at an amazing speed and it’s not about to stop. We’ve identified five areas of changes that have the greatest implications for organizations and the people tasked with telling their stories.

More Channels

The first is an explosion of new communications channels. Nearly two-thirds of American adults (65%) use social networking sites vs. just 7% a decade ago. While it’s hard to pinpoint how many social networking sites are in existence, more are being added all the time. Consider Snapchat, a popular site for young adults. It was founded five years ago in fall 2011 and today users watch nearly 10 million videos on the site each minute.

Less Time to Respond

We now live in a world of instant communications. We want information on-demand, we want to engage with organizations on our terms and we want to do it NOW. That’s no easy task, especially when dealing with complicated, difficult or sensitive issues.

Harsher Critics

All those channels and users in cyberspace have spawned a lot of haters out there. One wrong post, a soundbite slip-up or a careless “no comment” and the critics come out of the digital woodwork. This is particularly a big problem for government and corporate institutions. The question you have to ask yourself: “How well prepared are we and our spokespersons to deal with critics?”

More Noise

With all the “noise” generated by ever-expanding social media channels and critics, it’s hard to cut through the clutter with your important messages. Even the expectations and needs of mainstream media are very different today. That change, and the surge of video communications and social media, have created a need for a different breed of messenger. Do your spokespeople have the skills and talents needed to cut through the clutter?

Greater Expectations of Leaders/Spokespeople

Today, the demands on leaders and spokespeople are greater than ever, particularly in the area of communications. Engaging and motivating associates, investors, suppliers, constituents and other audiences requires leaders to be adept at communicating with more than an email or PowerPoint presentation. And handling bad situations and/or a crisis is vital to the well-being of an organization.

So how do you meet and deal with these five implications? 

The Solution

To meet these challenges, I strongly believe you have to create savvy spokespeople for your organization and arm them with tools to make the best of every situation. After all, people must like and trust the messenger before they will accept the message.

The 7 Traits of the Savvy Spokesperson

We help do that in our training by developing what I call the “7 Traits of the Savvy Spokesperson,” who:

  1. Uses multiple channels well
  2. Responds rapidly
  3. Tells stories
  4. Creates a character
  5. Adapts to different audiences
  6. Performs well on camera
  7. Manages attacks effectively

Future blogs will be devoted to exploring each of these characteristics. Here’s to better storytelling!