Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Now is too late

Have been reading this book called "Now is too late" in the past week - a really beautiful book - picked from the library. The book talks about how organizations should manage media opinion in an era of Instant News. I'd written an earlier post about the misuse of media power. In this context and in view of things that we've been through in the past month, I found the book extremely relevant. It gives particular insights about how should one manage public relations when u've activists biting at you :D.

Some interesting points (selected at random from the book) which I thought are worth noting:
"A lie is halfway around the world before you can get your pants on"
- Winston Churchill

To compete in an increasing crowded media environment, media organizations have increasingly turned to "infotainment". News is often designed to fit a predetermined formula that is not dictated by the information, but by media's understanding of the audience's need to be entertained. It is a blending of information and entertainment that results in public information being packaged in a way that resembles melodrama. To continue to pretend, as so many do, that news reporting is anything other than a business of gaining and maintaining audiences is deceptive.

"You only have one response to make a first impression" - every subsequent story will follow the line of original response or contradict it.

.... there is a very disjointed debate as both sides spar. The company/organization under attack focuses on the facts and carries on the discussion in a fairly formal, professional tone. The activist on the other hand ... the nature of the discourse is frequently much more personal, informal, passionate and ambiguous.

- reminds of something eh :P

Today, the Internet, much more than a means of publicly presenting information that audiences can "pull", has the ability to proactively "push" information and in the process build audiences or communities around shared interests. It is this ability that activist groups have used to great effect.

Some interesting points about blogging:
"What amazes the mainstream media about the bloggers is how quickly they've established themselves"

Some new rules of the media:
- Bad news can be controlled by opponents and politicians and frequently has a long life
- Speed is more important than accuracy
- credibility depends on getting to the media first, do not wait for them to call
- Proactively supply information, even about the smallest of incidents

...the only hope you have of managing perceptions is by communicating. To choose not to, or to communicate too slowly for today's instant news requirements, puts your message in the hands of others. Those others might have agendas quite contrary of your own.

Finally, a good learning:
The best defense is a good offense :D

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