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Damage Control, Journalism in the Era of WOM

Electronic communication tools and social media are powerful means to quickly communicate. While in most cases speed is an asset, it’s also a major negative for those who don’t self-censor.

Hence, the old adage: THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK.


For journalists, social media has been a welcome frontier for sharing more of their stories than could fit in print – offering complete in-depth interviews, video footage, and audio. Social media also provides a greater opportunity to reach and interact with younger audiences.

While there have been many positive developments for social media and journalism, there’s also a negative side that many news organizations have been struggling with.

Here’s a good example: “Washington Post Tells Journalists Not To Engage on Twitter

“The Post is clearly trying to do some damage control, but in a time when it is often difficult to encourage traditional journalists to embrace social media and dialogue with readers, this will only discourage it further. News organizations should be encouraging dialogue and debate, not stifling dialogue between readers and journalists.

Sure, it makes sense that they should rein in who manages the Washington Post-branded Twitter account, as that could be seen as an “official” response of the company and not an individual. But putting a stop on engagement and conversation regarding Post stories from journalists will only distance those reporters from the very community they are a part of. Perhaps a clarification to “speak on behalf of the Post,” could clear up what kind of dialogue it’s okay for journalists to engage in. But it is also likely that some journalists will now avoid it altogether. “

As professional communicators, The Monkeys fully embrace new communications technologies, as they give our clients new avenues for establishing authentic connections with key audiences. With that, we are also strong advocates of establishing guidelines for what to communicate, to whom, and where.

The issue that The Washington Post raises applies to brands and services along with the media. Have a social media strategy before you engage with audiences. You don’t want to end up digging out your crisis communications plan to deal with negative word of mouth.


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