business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece about the current state of crisis management, noting that technology can be a mixed blessing.

The Journal is absolutely right about that. Social media can turn a misstep into a conflagration, generating enormous outrage within minutes that then gets covered in the traditional media, which only adds to the outrage.

Of course, social media also provides companies with the ability to respond quickly. So that’s a good thing, though, to be fair, it is rare that the response is able to douse the fire as quickly as it was created.

And then, there’s another reality that is good news for companies caught in this scenario - the Journal writes that the “same rapid cycle can work in companies’ favor” because “it often means that controversy blows over faster than ever.”

And let’s face it - there’s always a new controversy to fuel people’s feelings of outrage. It is like societal ADD.

All of these factors contribute to an increasingly complicated minefield that companies have to pick their way through when presented with controversies that implicate them, involve them, or have been created by people who work for them.

It is like a perfect storm - when Facebook and Twitter are made available to people in an increasingly polarized society, where people are so infected with epistemic closure that they are unable to concede even the legitimate motivations driving the people who disagree with them, then all you get is heat, and heat for heat’s sake, and very little light.

I wish I had an answer to all this, some sort of secret formula for resolving all the rancor. I don’t.

Companies just have to know that this is a minefield in which they easily could find themselves, and it won’t necessarily be because of anything they’ve done or haven’t done.

How they respond - and how fast they respond - could well prove to be the Eye-Opener.
KC's View: