When Diamond Reynolds used her cell phone and Facebook Live to live-stream the unfortunate situation she found herself in, mere minutes after her boyfriend, Philando Castile, was fatally shot by a police officer, there was no stopping what would happen next. With the click of a couple of buttons, the story was instantaneously and irrevocably out there, and the world was watching, sharing and drawing their own conclusions.
Live-streaming is an emerging reality that you should be addressing and incorporating into your crisis preparedness program
It’s no secret that social media and mobile technology have changed the landscape for crisis management. But as these tools become more and more ingrained in our everyday lives, and as social media platforms themselves evolve with the trends, this changed landscape is getting more and more complex, and the risks they present to organizations are amplifying.
Live-streaming is an example of these risks, one that should officially be on your list of things to discuss internally and address within your crisis preparedness program.
The potential impact of live-streaming
When an incident is live broadcasted on social media, its reach becomes instantaneously global, making it even more difficult for your organization to get ahead of the story and position itself as the source of trust, credibility and leadership. But there’s more to it than just the reach and real-time impact.
Live-streamed video footage comes with a certain amount of weight – especially when it’s produced by a seemingly innocent bystander or individual, rather than a corporation.
Perception is reality. And live-streaming gives the perception of full transparency; full reality.
Watching an un-edited, live-streamed video gives the perception – whether real or not – that the video is pure and tells the whole story. This means that people will tend to draw their own conclusions before your organization has even had the chance to assess the situation and respond. Furthermore, if the footage or incident is emotionally impactful and highly relatable, the already shaped narrative will be that much harder to counter.
Who is susceptible to this risk?
While it may be nice to believe that this risk and reality is unique to law enforcement, that’s certainly not the case. The fact is that every organization today is susceptible to this risk. This means that, amongst other things, every organization should be teaching their employees and representatives to always assume that they are being filmed and to behave in a way that is consistent with the organizations values – and why it is important to do so now, more than ever.
The truth of the matter is that this risk isn’t going anywhere. If anything, it will only continue to intensify as consumers and stakeholders begin to realize the power that they can have over organizations with the use of these freely accessible tools.
Can live-streaming be leveraged to your crisis management advantage?
Part of being crisis-ready means choosing to understand and embrace today’s crisis management challenges, rather than choosing to resist them and pretend they don’t apply to you or your organization. The good news is that once you’ve set out to analyze and assess the many angles of a given risk, you can then aim to find unique opportunities to transform those challenges into your crisis management advantage.
For example, over the last couple of weeks, Dallas Police Chief David Brown has chosen to live-stream his press conferences using Periscope. This simple act showed a level of willingness to be transparent and amplified the reach of his important crisis communications. As a result, he has managed to reshape part of the narrative within this very complex, nation-wide crisis.
But be warned: Do not attempt to use live-streaming within your crisis communications unless you fully understand its potential scope and impact. Video in itself, though a great crisis communication strategy when done right, is challenging to do properly. Live-streamed video leaves no room for error.
Have you identified live-streaming as a risk or an escalation factor within your crisis preparedness program? If so, how are you addressing it? If not, what are you waiting for?
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.