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Crisis Management at Your Fingertips

By May 30, 2014 No Comments

Crisis management is coming to a smartphone near you.

Ketchum today announced the launch of Mobile RepProtect, an iOS and Android app that the firm hopes will give sweaty-palmed clients the ability to conquer any would-be PR nightmare from the comfort of their own phone.

The idea, says Ketchum senior vice president James Donnelly, is that clients will have their customized crisis plan at their fingertips, should corporate catastrophe strike. That would mean better coordination when it comes to managing reputation, he says.

Take a hotel chain, for instance. The company’s executives could be holed up in a different city, but if disaster happens in a particular hotel, the general manager there could act on the early steps right from his phone — alerting the company higher-ups, dealing with guests, and even dispersing legal department-approved statements to gnawing reporters.

Mr. Donnelly said that Ketchum has at least a dozen big clients interested in the app, but that it’s not meant for average crisis-prone people without Ketchum action plans (sorry, Donald Sterling

And “apping” a company’s crisis plan is just a natural progression, according to Mr. Donnelly. Clients would be better off using a streamlined app than furiously scrolling through a 70-page PDF on their phone. And because many people use their personal phones for work, the password-protected app could quickly revoke access should an individual leave the company.

“Five years ago we used to say you shouldn’t just have your plan in a binder because nobody carries around binders. You should have it in your laptop,” Mr. Donnelly said. “Well guess what? Nobody is carrying around laptops anymore.”

How Journalists Use Social Media to Report the News

A new report from the Indiana University School of Journalism shows how U.S. journalists are using social media to report the news. Based on online interviews with 1,080 U.S. journalists conducted during the fall of 2013, the new report updates previous findings and adds new ones concerning the role of social media in journalism.

Key Findings:


o 78 percent of US journalists check social media for breaking news


o 56.2 percent use it to find additional information about a topic


o 54.1 percent use social media to find sources for stories


o 40 percent of U.S. journalists said that social media are very important to their work.


o 34.6 percent spent between 30 to 60 minutes every day on social networking sites.


o 53.8 percent regularly use microblogs such as Twitter for gathering information and reporting their stories


o 23.6 percent visit blogs maintained by other journalists.


o 22.2 percent use Wikipedia


o 20.2 percent use YouTube


More than 80 percent say that social media does help to promote their work. Almost 70 percent say because of social media they are more engaged with their audiences. Sixty two percent say that social media allows them to do faster reporting of news.

The Need for Digital and Visual Media Training

Many U.S. journalists (68.1 percent) said that they would like additional training to cope with new job expectations. The largest group (30.5 percent) sought video shooting and editing skills, followed by 28.4 percent who wanted skills to improve social media engagement. The Spin Cycle thinks PR practitioners should follow suit! This lack of skill in the newsroom opens the door to providing visual content with your news stories. Digital skills and visual content training are some of the most valuable skills to master, whether you are a journalist or a PR pro.

Associated Press Editor Issues Edict To Shorten Stories

Citing a “sea of bloated mid-level copy,” Associated Press Managing Editor for U.S. News Brian Carovillano last week instructed fellow editors at the wire service to limit most “daily, bylined digest stories” to a length of between 300 and 500 words. Top stories from each state, Carovillano directed, should hit the 500 to 700-word range, and the “top global stories” may exceed 700 words but must still be “tightly written and edited.”

Carovillano’s memo itself references the driving force behind the limits: “Our members do not have the resources to trim the excess to fit shrinking news holes,” notes the editor.

Paul Colford, a spokesman for AP, notes that a “common concern” among AP members and subscribers is that stories are too long. In recent months, says Colford, the wire service has been trimming stories in Europe and the outcome has been “successful.”

For context, consider that the AP produces 2,000 stories per day (2013 output). The stories affected by the Carovillano memo cover the majority of stories produced for both state and global audiences, says Colford. However, those constraints don’t apply to the royalty in AP’s investigative division, who aren’t bound by the directive.

There are 1,400 daily U.S. newspapers that make up the AP cooperative, not to mention a number of radio stations, TV stations and web-based news properties such as Yahoo and MSN.

Here are a few additional motivations for the story-length directive, per Carovillano’s memo:

We are failing to exercise important news judgment when our stories are overlong and not tightly edited;?We give our competitors an opening to make inroads with our members and subscribers when our stories are too long;?Our digital customers know readers do not have the attention span for most long stories and are in fact turned off when they are too long;?Our regional desk editors are spending a lot of time cutting stories; they can give better, more comprehensive, faster-to-the-wire edits to stories that are more tightly written.

Carovillano urges his people to take the following steps to implement brevity:

– The reporter and editor should have a discussion about the appropriate length of stories at the outset of reporting — and stick to it;?- Consider using alternative story forms either to break out details from longer stories, or in lieu of a traditional text story.

That all sounds grim. Sticking to a predetermined story length short-shrifts the whole idea of reporting — namely, that you discover various wrinkles that a full and comprehensive report demands.

Pleas for extra space, though, may not find a receptive audience: “We will be closely monitoring story lengths across state and national lines to make sure we are all living up to this commitment,” writes Carovillano in his memo.

Credit Carovillano for this: His memo is only 476 words long, as is this lean, analysis-starved blog post.


Melted Mic | Donald Sterling, Despicable Disgrace

Donald Sterling is a sorry excuse for a human being. The despicable disgrace who was banned for life by the NBA in response to appalling racist comments, fined $2.5 million and is on the brink of having his team yanked from him by the NBA – should get more! The Spin Cycle is also banning his mic for life. Committing him to audio Alcatraz! Yanking his mouthpiece for eternity. There is no place for his ilk in sports or in life. He needs to crawl back under the rock he came from. He is the Jeffrey Dahmer of brands! Kia, Red Bull and State Farm – all of which have featured Clippers players in their promotional materials – left the team, as did national and local advertisers such as CarMax, Virgin America, Corona, Commerce Hotel & Casino and Samsung. For that, Sterling takes a molten hot, melted mic with him when the NBA kicks him to the curb – which will no doubt be applauded around the globe.