Video-sharing sites and crisis communication responses
According to a YouTube fact sheet, 20 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube EVERY minute. That’s a remarkable statistic.
I’ll be the first to admit I visit the site for a good laugh (I’ve watched Charlie bit my finger two dozen times), but generally speaking, I’m seeking video content that connects me with the leadership of corporations and nonprofit organizations across the globe. This is especially true during crisis communication events.
As Toyota’s recall list has grown to more than 8 million vehicles in recent weeks, the pressure is on the automaker to provide answers and take responsibility for its actions. As part of its crisis response, the company has produced the Toyota Commitment TV commercial and syndicated the video to its corporate website and YouTube.
According to Gavin O’Malley, data gathered in 2009 indicates that “the use of video-sharing sites currently outranks many other head-snatching Internet pastimes among American adults.”
The growing use of video-sharing sharing sites means that video communications must play an integral role in an organization’s crisis communication plan. Yes, Toyota was slow to use video to tell its story during its recent recall efforts, but the video content is now out there for consumers to discuss and debate. This is not the case for the Honda brand.
This week, Honda announced it is recalling nearly 438,000 vehicles worldwide because of problems with the airbag inflator. Honda’s corporate website offers a written statement on the recall, but there’s no video of a company spokesperson explaining the problem or how the company plans to fix problem.
Being a Honda owner, I was motivated to find out a bit more about the situation. My online search took me to YouTube where I viewed several news reports featuring news anchors who were discussing the “metal shards” that are reportedly inside the airbags of a few models of Honda vehicles. Ouch! This problem has apparently led to the death of one U.S. citizen.
Honda’s absence in the online video community presents a situation where a consumer’s understanding of the airbag design flaw will be shaped by news reporters who may or may not have all of the facts. Is this effective consumer relations?
The Public Relations Society of America offers a helpful overview of the basics of an online video response in a crisis situation. Written by Douglas Simon in 2009, the piece provides a solid rationale for developing credible video responses. Simon cautions readers that video is not an “instant panacea to solve any crisis,” but it’s a valuable tool for connecting with members of the online community.