I had quite an interesting night, watching live coverage of a massive fire unfolding in Middletown (Lake County, California) … which also happens to be my husband’s hometown. But rather than seeing anything at all about it on the evening news, I received nearly 100% of my information from Twitter and Periscope. While watching the live coverage on Periscope, I finally experienced firsthand what so many in both business and marketing circles have been talking about for so long: digital (or social) darwinism in action.
Below is an overview of a few people on Twitter who shared their thoughts about watching the fire while it was unfolding on Periscope:
It was indeed a defining moment for me, catching live video streams on Periscope, with some of those streams coming directly from various firefighters’ iPhones. Meanwhile, I found it delightful that the general public (and various people tuning in from around the globe) were encouraging them along every step of the way with words of support and concern as these periscopers did their best to share what was happening with viewers live and in real time. In one case, we watched a stream as the number of viewers started at below 100, and within a few minutes grew to over 1,500 viewers.
Not only was this in-the-moment, informative news that I wasn’t getting from any mainstream media sites, but rather than instilling a sense of fear and drama (as is often the case with front-line news reporting), the overall feeling evoked a sense of realism, as well as support, encouragement, and care from the community based on the sentiment of the comments that were filtering through the live chat. At one point I even saw a Sacramento Fire PIO comment to the firefighter livestreaming that they were sending in additional firefighters from the Sacramento area … which of course brings up an interesting question for brands: have you ever thought about tracking the conversations surrounding your brand on Periscope?
Needless to say, the hashtag #ValleyFire quickly caught on, and within a few short hours it became a trending topic on Twitter. Check out a small sampling of the the Twitter chatter about this mainsteam media fail below:
What’s so significant about this to me, is that expectations of brands and particularly news media during an unfolding crisis have changed drastically. As of this morning, nearly 24 hours after the fire had started, there was nothing up about the fire on the Lake County Record-Bee, the county’s main media website:
There were also no official tweets or statements throughout the night about what was happening (other than some updates from @Calfire_PIO), at least that anyone could find as evidenced by the conversations happening and questions being asked across Twitter and Facebook. And while I realize the area is considered rural, it seems as though there could have at least been a blurb quickly added to the top of the local news website with links to where people could find up-to-date info about the fire and where local shelters were being set up. Next to nothing was being covered about it on regional or national news stations.
While we always hear about the need for brands to be agile in today’s digital economy, the fact is if your brand is not agile, does not have a crisis communications plan, or is not in a position to respond/engage quickly, then your brand will quickly become irrelevant, and worse yet, lose the respect and attention of those who matter most: your viewing/repeat/engaged audience. In the words of Brian Solis, it’s #adaptordie.