Be quick or be dead! How to keep breaking news under control in the social media

How does your company handle important news? How do you act when you’re faced with a situation of enormous public interest, or at least of enormous interest to your potential customers? Remember that what you do in the first crucial minutes and hours will have a very significant impact on the outcome of the situation.

Act fast or lose control

Take the very sad and horrifying incident that happened in Los Cristianos, on Tenerife, just over a week ago. A charming British lady was beheaded by a homeless man right in the middle of a shopping centre, in a heinous act that could have been taken straight out of a horror film. Needless to say, this is the ultimate example of that kind of event that just tends to get out of hand, with the sober facts of the matter battling against an explosion of rumours that can easily spiral out of control.

So why did the police and the other government entities remain silent for so long when they could have given the basic details right away and put paid to much of the speculation? Instead, in the initial moments after the incident, the press were left without an official version of what had happened and were forced to wade through all sorts of random information as they tried to report the story to their audience.

Well, it just so happened that our colleague, Colin Kirby, a writer at was in the area and almost witnessed this murder as it happened. Colin gave an account of what he saw and learned from other witnesses on a video that already has three-quarters of a million hits on YouTube, and the article he wrote later has brought a lot of traffic and attention to the website. The result was that Tenerife Magazine became the contact point and was being called by numerous news agencies, including the BBC, The Times, The Guardian, Sky News, The Mirror and The Daily Mail, all eager to get the best information they could.

Take the bull by the horns and come out top

Now this is not at all a nice example, but it clearly shows the effects of modern real-time communication, where the public have just as much power as professional reporters to get the news out there. What this means for your company, is that if you delay or ‘play cautious’ as an event unfolds, you effectively give up control of the news and leave it to its own devices, just like the Tenerife authorities have done in this case.

Instead, what you need to do is to deal with something quickly and honestly as soon as it happens, so that you don’t allow any time for the rumours and personal versions to take root. Damage control is not about trying to keep a negative situation under wraps. That is absolutely impossible today and any attempt to do so will surely come to light and backfire. When you are forthright with an objective version of the facts of the matter, you gain reputation in the eyes of your public and also keep the situation from becoming potentially volatile. If you are to blame, admit your fault, explain your position honestly, and say what you are doing to rectify the situation. That’s the best way to come out on top!

Get the positive stuff out there immediately too!

Even when you have something positive to talk about, you need to be quick to get it out there while general interest is at its peak. Take, for example, Tenerife Magazine’s coverage of the Tenerife Ladies Open Golf Tournament. They make sure to continuously post social media updates live as the events are happening. What is the point of posting photos and articles once the action is already over? By then, fans and participants have already seen and shared tons of material and it’s all old news.

The very same goes for any event that you think might be of interest to your target audience. You need to be on top of your game and quick to upload all the material you can to the different social media sites. This gives your posts a greater chance of going viral and attracting attention to your brand. Luckily, the mobile internet makes it easy for you to access your social media accounts from anywhere, so you really have no excuse for not being the one of the first with the news!

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