Data is a double edged sword, even the likes of Mark Zuckerberg have found this out in recent times, and following the “shock defeat” of Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential election the metaphorical witch hunt was underway, who were the data scientists and how did they get their information? Why did we not use the same information to affect voters in the election? The list of questions goes on but one thing is for sure is that data gained by listening to what people think or want can no longer be ignored, during a crisis that data is just coming at a faster rate than a normal work day.
Fast forward to the 2018 Malaysian elections (elections are to the communications industry as military conflicts are to the arms industry, they are testing grounds for new technology and the tactics that are implemented in that new strategic environment) social data was the new pulse that the stakeholders needed to keep their finger on. Needless to say we can see which side managed this component better. When managing a crisis and the same lessons can be applied, the real question is why has it become so important for business leaders?
In the past a crisis could be managed in isolation, you get your internal team together, good people that know what they are doing their fields and you roll out your crisis management plan for those who have one and for those who don’t you scramble to put together a few next steps and action points. As a decision maker you will naturally want all the information possible. How bad is the fire, how many people have been hurt, what are the financial implications, what are the legal implications and who else knows about this fire? These and host of other questions are asked and hopefully answered and you as the CEO with your team solve the crisis.
Now we add the element of social pressure. Enter the armchair expert who has a few thousand followers on twitter or Instagram and they commented on your crisis or even worse they are the person who broke the story by broadcasting it on Facebook Live. It could be something simple, the way things have been handled by you as the CEO or how your PR Manager handled the press during a first contact situation. This is then shared and people’s perception and opinion have been shifted.
At the same time the algorithms that Google or Facebook use start to see this topic as something interesting so by the end of the day everyone including the authorities know what’s going on and their human curiosity and desire to know what’s going on will mean your organisation needs to respond.
So, while you are in your office “controlling the crisis” in the matter of hours strange forces beyond your control have taken your internal crisis and turned it into a national news story. You have cancelled all your meetings, friends and family members are busy calling you and your WhatsApp is a constant barrage of questions. What has happened is an armchair expert or just an average person is in control of the context of your crisis and an algorithm is pushing your story everywhere because it’s interesting and that’s how they make money.
This is where things can get better or things can get worse.
What are people really concerned about and what is driving their conversations? This is where organisations need social listening tools. How do you respond and how will that response effect the different stakeholders in a crisis? This is where you need expertise in crisis management.
The Crisis Management Centre has consolidated and formalise what we have learnt to developed a framework for crisis management that allows decision makers in a company to make well informed decisions quickly. In a crisis you need information and facts at your fingertips, this is more so the case in the current social media reality that we live in that mean digital media analytics.
It is important to note that in the modern media environment all mainstream media have multiple social media channels. Unlike the nightly news, if you miss it you miss it, when it’s on YouTube it’s
up there for everyone to see and unless it’s taken down it’s going to be up there for a long time.
The Crisis Management Centre together with Harvestmedia have created the “Crisis Snapshot
Report” series which utilizes the latest data analytical tools to tack various crises that are effecting
business and politics in Malaysia. The first report title “Tracking the HRDF Crisis” examined how
recent developments following the last election have created a crisis for individuals and the
organisation. From a social media perspective it went viral through LinkedIn and WhatsApp groups
breaking the story to the business community.
“We live in the Age of Crisis, there are those who are able to manage this and there are those who
will become a corporate history case study.”
Nordin Abdullah established the Crisis Management Centre to assist individuals, corporations and
governments effectively deal with all aspects of a crisis. The key areas that the Crisis Management
Centre can assist is; pre-crisis with risk assessment and key personnel training, mid-crisis response to
limit the damage and post crisis turn around and recovery. For more information visit
Nordin Abdullah is a contributor to News Hub Asia, his views and opinions don’t necessarily reflect
the views of NHA.