Golden hour gone

Jerry Hendin

Remember the “Golden Hour” in crisis communications?

Forget it; it no longer exists. 

Social media has so changed the landscape of crisis communications that what was true in 2009—when US Airlines landed its plane in the Hudson River in New York—is now just a historical footnote.  That was when John Krums took the now, iconic photo of the plane in the water and tweeted it to 170 friends…and, within minutes,  it was on CNN and other media outlets.

Fast forward to 2013 when an Asiana jetliner crashed at the San Francisco Airport; within minutes of the accident, David Eun, a Samsung executive and passenger onboard the flight, deplaned and, turning around, captured the aftermath of the event on his iPad.  That video quickly became the lead story on CNN.

And then there is United Airlines which, in April, had a passenger removed from a plane going from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky.  The video of that incident was a leading story in major media around the world and was the number one trending topic on Weibo, in China, reportedly attracting more  than 480 million viewers. 

The lesson is simple:  if social media is not part of your crisis communications plan, you are in trouble.  If you do not have pre-approved social media responses—as you do for traditional media—you are in trouble. 

And if you think that social media is just a fad…you are dreaming.  And dreaming is not a good substitute for planning.