Social Media: Creating Good News From Bad News

Posted by | November 8, 2012 | Social Media

© 2011 Trish MacQueen

Life, in a social writer’s world, is always interesting and often we are asked to create articles, blogs, and other social media to assist companies with maintaining good reputations. In the old days, if bad news about a company, a product, or a personality within the company was released, it was usually considered in the best interest of the company to “Sweep it Under the Rug” or keep it quiet. Many companies figured if they didn’t make a statement about the issue, that is would die a natural death.

Today, that is not the case at all. With all the different forms of media available, news spreads very quickly. Social media has revolutionized how people learn about what is happening in the world and with all the people and businesses using it, you can bet someone will pick up on the story and start spreading it around. So with the social media influences, companies have been placed in a position where they must address an issue head on.

For social writers, this means that they must take a bad situation with many unhappy people who need to be dealt with indirectly and create a situation that gains empathy from all readers. In order to do this, writers must be able to connect and understand the aspects that are making these people so unhappy and then find a way to put a new and interesting spin on the situation, even if only to create a diversion.

This often requires answering unhappy people’s “real questions” with very real and direct answers. People are much worldlier than they were 20 years ago and trying to snow them will only make a bad situation worse. Unfortunately, this interaction takes a great deal of time and when you are working with deadlines that are already too tight, it is hard to find the time you need to write really well and ignoring the unhappy people is just not an option.

News spreads really fast on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and other social media channels so cooperation often is required to “Clean Up” the situation and put a new spin on it.This means working with your peers and competitors to come up with some real and interesting news that can take away from bad news that is spreading. If you cannot find new or interesting news, then you must find a way to put a positive spin on the spreading of bad news. Sometimes you can do this simply by acknowledging the news and explaining what the company is planning to do about it.

Other times, you simply need to explain the complexities of the situation in easy to understand terms. People, often scan the news they read…not read it word for word, so this technique often works to calm the angry masses. Once explained in simple terms, many readers realize they didn’t get the whole picture and your job as a writer is to ensure that they do.

That trick alone is often enough to put the entire bad situation at rest, so the company can breathe until they find a way to get the situation under control.

~ Trish MacQueen has spent 25+ years in the freelance writing and publishing industry. She is CEO of The Word Shoppe, an internet content business and Maitland River Publishing, an electronic publishing house. Trish has been published in several print and online magazines and newsletters.

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