Crisis in a matter of seconds

It has been nearly 30 years since the incident, but the Tylenol tampering case of 1982 is still a textbook case for crisis management....

It has been nearly 30 years since the incident, but the Tylenol tampering case of 1982 is still a textbook case for crisis management. A crisis then usually unfolded when an event got reported nationally, across a wire service that would be picked up by broadcast and sent out to the general public with the news that would spark alarm. But today, a single user of the micro-blogging service Twitter who might have 700 followers could send out an alarm about a product, a brand, or a company. And that posting can be quickly picked up and magnified in the Twitter echo chamber over and over again to growing numbers of people within a period of six hours. It is only at that point that the story might get reported on by major news outlets.

According to Neilsen, Twitter grew from February 2008 to February 2009 at a staggering rate of 1,383%, which is even faster than Facebook. Increasingly journalists, newspapers and broadcast outlets are using Twitter not only as a news feed to send out stories, but to find story ideas as well.

The beauty of it is that, as never before, one can see the birth of a movement, observe the messaging and identify the "nodes" who are influential communicators. But it requires the ability to know the many applications that have developed in addition to Twitter that provide the essential tools for monitoring and analysis, without which, one can completely miss the crisis that is brewing until it is too late. With the advent of this new medium and the emergence of citizen journalists, if Twitter had been around in 1982 during the Tylenol crisis, the classic case study would look completely different.

Mark Senak, SVP, Fleishman-Hillard, and author of the Eye on FDA blog.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.