Month: November 2014

What Jian Ghomeshi has Taught Everyone About Digital Communications

Posted on Updated on

CBC_JianGhomeshi-394Like many Canadians, I’ve been watching Jian Ghomeshi’s personal and professional life collide in a cataclysmic way.  Some could argue that when you are a celebrity the lines between personal and professional are blurred, and much of what most people wouldn’t lose sleep over are things celebrities need to think twice, three times or even eleven times about.

I’m not going to get into what my personal thoughts are regarding this case.  I think this needs to be tried in court of law and not in the court of public opinion, however the fact that much of this is taking place in the realm of public opinion brings me to the point of this post.

Everyone has a personal brand, many people’s personal brands are tied to their professions, many of these professions use digital tools in public to promote and/or talk about their work.  My blog is an example of that for me.

Jian chose to use the digital space to begin the dialouge about his personal situation.  On October 26, he tweeted this, which links to a very serious and very public Facebook Post. As of this post, his tweet has been re-tweeed 5,400 times, and those re-tweets will also be re-tweeted. I assume he was doing this to take control of a  situation that he suspected would spiral out of control.

What Jian needed was to have a strategy in place for his digital identity.  Sounds silly right?  Like, how in the world during a personal crisis would anyone stop and plan?  The fact is, most businesses have regular communications plans in place, but they also have crisis communications plans there as well.  Those plans are created when there isn’t a crisis and when everyone was level headed and thinking clearly.

We’ve watched many celebrities have digital melt downs (Charlie Sheen, Amanda Bynes – who’s still having one apparently).  Their public posts and commentary resurface in media stories or as evidence in court. For Jian, his statements made about consensual sex and safe words are things that he will be held too, especially now that there is a pending police investigation.

What could celebrities do to plan for a potential digital crisis?

  1. Create separate accounts, one for their personal use and the other for their professional use.
  2. Use their personal account for close family and friends, and their professional accounts for work related activity – this would definitely include “stunts” that they want leaked as private.
  3. Determine a digital crisis communications “team”, including approval and posting processes.
  4. Ensure that their management team has access to their professional accounts.  This would assist in someone being able to take control of the brand in the event the user becomes reactionary to negative circumstances, or in the worst case scenario…if it needed to be shut down and deleted.  (Hey – this is also an option and a completely viable and realistic option.  Sometimes if the situation is bad enough you just don’t need millions of people hurling insults at your brand that you can get real time notifications about.)
  5. Craft messaging that is consistent around all of their digital channels, that is practical given the situation.  Not everyone needs to know everything.  (The media can leak things all the want, but you will have your chance to defend your brand publicly.  Your digital spaces just might not be the appropriate channels.)
  6. Think of the tough questions that may be directed towards them during the crisis and what the decision will be on answering them via digital channels.  (Direct to a spokesperson, provide a phone number, a blanketed statement, advise that the individual will not be using their accounts for some time).

I know I’ve labelled this a digital crisis communications plan for celebrities, but realistically this applies to anyone and everyone who has developed a digital brand presence.