Media Blog Gone Bad – Shea Allen Goes Too Far
When Reporters Become a Social Media Risk To Themselves and Their Employer
By Firestorm Principal Paige Rucker
It’s been a long time since I had the role as journalist for the same television station that now fired reporter and flagrant blogger Shea Allen was employed by. I know all too well the daily trials and tribulations of “getting the story” and fighting to be the lead at 6:00. I also know what it’s like to be tasked with finding news in an otherwise not so newsworthy day, attempting to look like a million bucks on a very small salary and interviewing a few individuals that I absolutely had no respect for. The difference – I didn’t publicly talk about it.
As a journalist I proudly took on the obligation to the public to not only get the story, but get it right or at least make every attempt to do so. In those days we held ourselves to a high standard of ethics, never to divulge our political affiliations, our stand on abortion or how we truly felt about the story we were covering. It was an unspoken pledge we made when we took on the role as a journalist.
Oh how times have changed. Every reporter has a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook page and a voice in the ever changing Social Media space. In some cases it’s not so much about quality and in-depth reporting as it is about number of followers. Now reporters re-post stories in their blogs and encourage news tips and story ideas through their Facebook and Twitter accounts. And when a reporter makes a mistake, we have the luxury of watching it over and over again online and on air thanks to YouTube.
At Firestorm, we educate businesses on how to effectively communicate to the news media during crisis. We train them on message mapping, press release creation and how to ensure you have an effective spokesperson. In our social media risk webinars we address the issues of how reporters utilize social media to gain access to victims of crisis and how tweets attack and become our own social media firestorm.
Social media risk management is fairly new but is steadily becoming one of the fastest growing risks within business today. In 2012, Forbes Insight and Deloitte conducted research among 192 US executives within organizations that generate $1 billion. Social media was found as the fourth biggest risk that challenged these executives. And the news media is not immune.
What happens when a reporter becomes their own Social Media Risk? What happens to a TV station or newspaper’s credibility when one of its own goes rogue – detailing their day in the life as Shea Allen did? The result – media reputation clean-up on aisle 3.
One of the largest social media risks is that anything you do or say can leak out. If you aren’t protecting your organization you are grossly behind. News reporters are the voice and face of the organization they work for. They serve as their company’s brand. And social media disasters run like a wild fire, ever increasing speed, power, damage and destruction along the way.
A few considerations to for any organization:
• Know the implications of your employee’s posts
• Monitor your employees online presence (especially those who represent your company’s brand)
• Labeling it as “opinion” doesn’t make it so
• Protect yourself with the appropriate social media policies
• Don’t ignore the problem
Social media has tremendous benefits for organizations but it can also kill a reputation, ruin credibility and land your business in court.