Quite often clients tell me they find social media of great interest and relevant; however, they still do not quite know how to manage the vast amount of information published on the internet, including the direction in which information is flowing. The lack of control over what is going to be published and by whom has made more than one client nervous, especially since blogs and social media sites have mushroomed swiftly.
PR and Corporate Comms professionals operating in the renewable energy sector are no exception. Plenty of blog posts are being posted every day on renewable energies, not least by NGOs and lobby groups. How many of them are relevant and how to establish what is relevant? While media monitoring is relevant to scan through the media coverage on a daily basis and to perform regular fire fighting, part of a measurement programme’s aim is to develop a tactical communication strategy and to assess the way certain news stories unfold over time. The Dow Jones Insight Discovery chart tracks what conversations are rising and falling over time, including those mentioned in the social media space. As an example, I recently took a look at coverage of EDF.
In early March, EDF halted the concreting of its reactor at nuclear power plant Flamanville 3 after security controls revealed flaws in its consoles. Hundreds of people recommended the news on Facebook and hundreds added a comment on several blog posts. As expected, several posts questioned the safety of nuclear power plants, giving the Fukushima disaster as an example.
In February, EDF CEO Henri Proglio responded to a shortfall of electricity, saying that the company would not cut the supply of electricity to disadvantaged households. As thousands of households had been left without electricity, several angry bloggers and subsequent comments complained that EDF had not kept its promise. Yet this topic of discussion, as the chart shows, has fallen since it started.
Click to enlarge:
(Date Range: 22 December 2011 – 22 March 2012)
Tags: EDF, Facebook, Fukushima, Insight, Nuclear Energy, Social Media
It is no surprise that the future of nuclear power is on top of the news agenda in many countries as part of the aftermath of the Fukushima incident. You also might have expected that companies related to nuclear power like Areva, GE-Hitachi or Toshiba are flooded with negative press.
But what might be a surprise is that renewable energy didn’t benefit much from this crisis in terms of an increase of discussions in the media. What was also rather unexpected is the fact that some media – especially in the Middle East – still spoke rather positively about nuclear energy after the recent crisis.
The Power Of Newswires: Understanding The Media Landscape
Another interesting aspect of our study: Newswires have been the most reliable original traditional media source during Japan’s nuclear crisis.
The Tepco Case – Jeopardizing Japan’s Food Industry
As far as the operator of the Fukushima power plants, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), are concerned, traditional media are paying the most attention, although there are also many discussions taking place in blogs and forums. For a crisis of this extent, it should be expected that the disaster-ridden news coverage about Tepco has been almost entirely negative.
However, the unfavourable press is not limited to (nuclear) power generation and distribution. In fact, Tepco seems have become connected to major industrial issues in Japan and worldwide; from food and goods contamination to the dive of Japan’s whole export-drive economy. This is certainly a warning signal to any company to consider crisis scenarios beyond their direct line of business.
Holistic Crisis Management – To Be Prepared Is Everything
As said by Shakespeare: To be prepared is everything. For communicators, this means that crisis scenario planing should be done with the utmost holistic approach.
Georg Ackermann is the team leader of the Dow Jones Media Lab in Singapore. Lars Voedisch is a media consultant covering the Asia-Pacific region.
Tags: Crisis Management, Fukushima, Insight, Mainstream, media analysis, Newswires, Nuclear Energy