PublicMediaCamp on How to Handle an Online Revolt

NOTE:  This past weekend I attended an important conference at American University … the following are meeting notes (with minor revisions for this post) from one of the sessions:

Name:How to handle an ONLINE REVOLT
Speakers: MPB
Notes and Takeaways:
“Let them Vent” -provide a place for people to discuss the issue
How the Air Force  responds to blogs (thanks @jrstahl), which Miss. now uses as a guideline
Air Force's Web Posting Response Assessment
(Air Force Public Affairs Agency)
  1. Looking back at the NPR Fresh Air cancellation.
  2. What Happened: Louis CK piece offended someone, they complained and it was cancelled
    1. Switched time to classical music, eventually changed time of Fresh Air
  3. The Fallout:
    1. Did not remove any comments on Facebook except for two
    2. Saw influx of people liked page just to respond, lots of ‘blogosphere’ response
  4. How do you manage those opinions online?
    1. The response from higher ups was bland and didn’t answer people’s questions
  5. Financial ramifications: have had two pledge cycles since then, and they have been down, in part due to Juan Williams and Fresh Air
  6. The state is in the process of cutting all finances to the station.
7. Most ‘handling’ was done on Social Media( (I think this is the right page)
-“It is a public wall-let them vent”
-There was an ‘anti-Miss. PR Facebook page’ set up-they ignored it
Directly responded to Facebook comments: eg. Miss. is fat- why would you say that?
8. Comments on Facebook v Blog: Facebook was more personal
9. Disconnect between traditional PR and SM- you need to give them the tools to respond
10. How do you collaborate your staff to get on the same message, and keep people on message?
Andy Carvin/NPR-Juan Williams Fallout
1. Medal of Fear:
2. Juan Williams Firing:
Carvin found out on Twitter
16,000 blog posts about it.
over 10,000 comments on Facebook, and online each
10,000 new fans on Facebook-but 9,000 left the next day
“Just let people vent”
Did nothing other than post David Folkenflick’s coverage
Posted on Facebook after a few days: feel free to discuss, but it is time to stop hijacking other discussions about bluegrass and turn it into JW
Only banned 6/7 people on Facebook-snark was allowed
Users began to ban others themselves because they were sick of it
(“Kill them with Kindness”-maple syrup recipe, anyone?)
Carvin could talk about the discourse via personal account and shared links via RT
Made sure there were places for people to vent
NPR/Juan Williams mentioned in 1/200 tweets during that time (there are 65 million a day total ~)
At first comments on Twitter were 10/1 against NPR
Free Press started a twitter and petition campaign for NPR
Comment Moderation: (NPR uses an outside company)
Under no circumstances should you block content that is critical of NPR
Just make sure it is in a place that it is relevant
Big concern for Carvin was personal attacks on staff that threatened safety
Station Relations:
Stations Relations sent out fact sheets etc with response suggestions.
90 percent of stations saw an increase in revenue (NPR ‘viewers’ that were mad didn’t pledge anyways)
PBS/Kevin Dando: Tina Fey edited speech
PBS Ombudsmans response (Thanks @digiphile)
Left Facebook comments
Mitigated some anger by providing link to unedited speech
Warned people before deleting spam comments
Use Context Optional to moderate Facebook comments (Thanks @AmyWoo)
Helpful to have a place where people can vent
Provide alternate links to content online
In communications dept-in their interest to get this information out

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