I admit, I should have been at my computer working when the earth shook this morning. Instead, I was out on my lawn trying to hone my inconsistent driver swing when this morning's Southern California earthquake hit a little before 10 am. Being about 15 miles from the epicenter of a 4.7 magnitude (some still say 5.2) earthquake is not an every day experience, even for someone from the earthquake prone Pacific Northwest.
As I look back at that experience, now just a few hours old, it reinforces some of the things about emergency communications that we keep talking about here. It took a few seconds for my mind to register what was going on. I was only about ten feet from the back patio of our winter home in Palm Desert. I thought I heard a loud truck going by behind me on the main road in our development. So when I suddenly saw the windows start to shake and the pillars in the patio moving I first thought, that truck is really causing some vibration. Then I realized it couldn't be (and the truck sound might have been the sound of the earthquake as my neighbor said). I watched the windows in amazement, first being oh so grateful not to be in the house as I thought it might start crumbling. I looked to the six foot high hedge just to my right and it was shaking as if one of those strong winds was blowing. But there was no wind.
Where's my wife? was my first thought. She ran into town to the grocery store. I need to call her. Lesson 1: first thing is needing to communicate to find out if loved ones are OK. For many, this panic to see if everyone is ok extends to pets. Emergency planners are realizing more and more that considering pets is a key to people's behavior.
But I couldn't call or text her. I left my phone on my desk. And I didn't want to go inside thinking that there was more and worse to come. Turns out there were four or more earthquakes near here this morning, foreshocks including one located a couple miles to the east in LaQuinta.
Then I thought, dang, without my phone I can't check Twitter to see what this is all about. Lesson 2: like many today my first thought was not to turn on the TV or radio, not even to go to a news channel on my smartphone. My first thought was to check Twitter because I knew if others were affected, there was going to be chatter.
It wasn't long before my desperation to contact my wife and get additional information overcame my fear of more shaking and I went in to get my phone. I got out of the house as quickly as I got it (I was still shaking and not sure I could tell if it was the floor or me.) The relief of having that little device in my hands is hard to describe. My lifeline.
I called my wife. She was fine, if shaken. She was in the wine section of Vons and the rattling of the bottles was amazing. She and most others left their carts and headed for the exits. Remarkably, she said the checkers stayed right where they were. Lesson 3: Even in this earthquake-prone area (we are after all, just a few miles from the San Andreas fault which is clearly visible in the nearby hills), I doubt that most people and companies are adequately prepared. What guidance is provided to employees to take action and protect customers? There was no PA announcement. Everyone did what instincts led them to do.
With my main question answered, I hit Twitter on the phone. Yes, there were tweets from all over southern california. Lesson 4: it's amazing how crude and disgusting some people can be even in these kinds of circumstances. But, it gave me helpful information to get some idea of the scope.
By the time I connected to Twitter and started seeing the tweets from those experiencing the quake, the news channels in the area were reporting breaking news on Twitter. The hashtag #BREAKING was actively used for these stories. Lesson 5: the news channels are very very fast with stories like this, and particularly on social media. I was staying outside and really had no thought of checking the local news channels on TV. Why should I risk going back inside? I had everything I needed now that I had my phone with me.
I quickly went to USGS to check their site. There I found out about the other quakes and as much info as I needed about the quake itself. Lesson 6: those hungry for info will go quickly to the source, or the most reliable and authoritative voice. This raises the question--how fast will you be? If USGS had not had real time info I would remember that, I would never ever even think of giving them a second chance in future events for fast, accurate information. It amazes me as I reflect on this now that with this reality so many organizations, and especially emergency management agencies, are so ill-equipped to be authoritative sources of information. They do not get it that today you are either fast, or you are completely out of the game.
After satisfying my intense hunger for information, my next thought was the others in my family. I got an AP Mobile breaking news alert about that time (a little slow I thought) and since there are usually only a few of these a week, I figured this quake was pretty big news around the country. My family would worry about us and if they didn't hear, they would really worry. I sent a group email to my kids and their spouses, then called my mom and dad. They hadn't heard but it was nice chatting anyway. Lesson 7: when you've been through an emotional experience, you want to share it. With your loved ones first, then just about anyone else who might have the slightest interest (like you, for example). And that puts more of a burden on the communication networks like cellular networks, which in most major events will likely buckle under the burden.
I suspect my experience is not unique. Experience is still absolutely the best teacher, but only if there are those willing to learn from it. I hope sharing this is helpful for you.
As the idea of social media as a source of actionable intelligence for emergency managers slowly, ever so slowly, takes hold, there is one issue the naysayers continually raise: the lack of trustworthiness of social media and the Internet. I love that State Farm commercial where the young woman says "they can't put anything on the Internet that isn't true." Where'd she hear that? the guy asks. "The Internet," she says confidently, as she walks away with the "french model" she met on the Internet. Certainly the ugliest man I've ever seen on TV who mumbles a phony "bone jure."
The common answer to trustworthiness of User Generated Content (UGC) is collective intelligence. Wikipedia works as a highly reliable and trustworthy source of information because the many people participating quickly correct errors as they emerge. That's how, way back in 2007, the Facebook community of Virginia Tech was able to identify successfully and without error the shooting victims well before authorities released their names.
PIOs and communicators also use social media and UGC to get a better understanding of what people are thinking out there, how they are reacting, are they getting the critical messages? Are new issues and concerns emerging. This is an unprecedented advantage for communicators to have this kind of instantaneous feedback and the ability to spot questions and concerns before they can gain momentum. But, and here is the big question, is using social media for sentiment analysis valid? Can you use the discussion going on on Facebook and Twitter as a reasonable guide to what people are thinking and feeling?
The answer provided by Pew is "not really." You can, but you better do it carefully knowing that those participating do NOT necessarily reflect the broad public perspective.
This new study by Pew shows that Twitter users tend to skew quite dramatically to the left (but not always), and that their reactions are generally more negative than the public. This does not diminish the value of social media monitoring. But it does mean that social media cannot be used as the sole gauge for public perceptions on any particular issue.
One would not expect a publication put out by a Norwegian oil services company to offer some of the more intriguing thoughts about how social media and digital communications is changing our world. But "Reflections," a beautifully produced magazine published by the Norwegian firm PGS (Petroleum GeoServices) has an article well worth a read. It's called "Welcome to the Age of Communcation Entropy," written by Stein Arne Nistad.
You may also find the next article of interest unless you are tired of BP and learnings from the gulf spill. Stein interviewed me via Skype several months ago for this publication and I thought he did a good job of identifying some of the critical issues in crisis communication arising out of, or demonstrated by this event.
Back to communication entropy. The idea of course is taken from the second law of thermodynamics which essentially states that a basic law of the universe is that order proceeds to disorder. Stein uses the example of water in which in its frozen state the molecules are neatly arranged as crystals, but as heat (energy) increases, the molecules are "freed" and move about in random fashion. Order to disorder. He equates this with the disorder that proceeds from increased communication and interactions resulting from Internet/digital/social networks, using the Arab Spring as an example. Dictators and governments (and other leaders for that matter) who want to control dissent (disorder from their perspective) try hard to control the means of communication or otherwise limit communication.
It's an intriguing idea and one that I am tossing about in my head quite a bit. In part due to the opportunity to review a book by Stein Arne Nistad that will be published in the US soon. In it, he explores this idea in considerable more depth.
I suspect that from an emergency manager's perspective, what social media (and other forms of digital communication) is doing to emergency management feels very much like disorder. The idea of "it's not my emergency" and all those VOSTS and volunteers and everyone jumping in on their own to help, let alone all those new websites and groups organizing social networked based response, well its enough to make one feel that the world has gone totally crazy. There is also the analogy of increasing energy. After all, the molecules of water move freely and in random fashion when energy is applied and "heat" is merely a state of increased energy where molecules fly around faster. Emergencies involving large numbers of people randomly moving about like molecules must feel like a far more energetic one.
Yet, I still struggle with this analogy and would love to hear what others think. One of the reasons I struggle with it I think is that entropy is a precise scientific description in that world, but disorder is something we all encounter and not precise. I often wonder how the law of entropy applies to evolution--isn't evolution a marvelous example of things moving from apparent disorder to remarkable order? How does evolution, including what many believe to be its crowning achievement: consciousness, co-exist with the second law of thermodynamics. And is a crowd-included disaster response of necessity more disorderly, or does it merely signal that we must take a different approach?
OK, I'm ranging far afield here. Hope you enjoy the article and stimulates some of your own thinking on this.
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By now it's an old story. At least until you start talking to communicators and find that most still seem to think that their job is the news media. A new poll found that the Internet has now passed network news as a news source. Cable still reigns--but the march continues on. The implications for that, well, that's what this blog is mostly about.
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About a month ago I blogged on "Thirteen Reasons Why Crisis Communication Plans Fail." It was a brief summary of a white paper I was working on. It certainly stimulated a lot of discussion, comments and interest. Several commenters took me up on my request to add to the list and I receive a number of very valuable contributions. So, first thanks to all those who contacted me with encouragement and your additions. While some of the suggestions I felt best fit into some of the categories established, a number created new "plan fails." I'm now up to 19 reasons.
The white paper goes much deeper into each of these reasons and provides some proposed solutions on how to fix the problem. Reason #19 is a contribution from one of the Crisis Comm readers and I quote it from the white paper in full:
19. In a Perfect World Plans
A hint whether or not your plan fits this category can be found by looking at how the plan suggests you activate your team. Does it say to call their office extension? Won’t do much good for those events that happen outside of office hours. Does it say call them on their cell phone? Works as long as cell phones work—which is not much in events affecting significant parts of the population. Does your plan identify a specific person as heading the crisis communications response? What if that person goes down in the same crash that takes the Chairman and CEO. Or if she is on the beach on Barbados and can’t be reached? Perfect world plans simply don’t take into account the realities that not everything will be in order when an event hits. You’ve planned for working with the local hospital. What if the beds are full?
The ironic thing is that crisis plans also need their own business continuity plan. In other words, they need built-in redundancies and backup plans. Every major position should have at least three people identified and trained to fill that position. Various means of contacting key people should be considered including possible use of satellite phones. More reliance in contacting should be placed on text messaging because of the resilience of the cellular data vs. voice networks. No one single method should be relied on for activating the team and for maintaining either internal or external communication.
I hope to get around to commenting on many of the reasons in future blog posts. However, if you would like to get a copy of the current white paper (I say current because I have an idea I'm going to get more good suggestions and will have to update it), please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. That will put you on the list to get future updates as well.
Once more, thanks for engaging. Thanks to all those who commented and contributed.
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Media stories, and social media to some extent, seem to focus mostly on the negative in stories like SuperStorm Sandy. Long Island Power Authority ended up with the black hat in the media mega-narrative of this event (someone has to so it seems). But, what often goes under-reported is the heroic efforts of many in responding to events like this.
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power just posted an interesting video on the efforts of 60 of their personnel (plus many else who helped out while staying on the job in LA). Full disclosure--this agency is a client but I was not involved in this activity nor the production of this video.
I thought bringing this to your attention was valuable for two reasons. One, it shows the behind the scenes dedication, effort and challenges of supporting restoration in an event of this magnitude. But, from a communications standpoint, it shows the power and value of video. How else could a story like this be so powerfully told? If you are not looking into using video as part of routine and crisis or emergency communication, you should. It's not as difficult as you may think.
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The lights went out in the Superdome. It's every venue manager's and utility executives nightmare. Exactly this scenario was one of many major event scenarios I've been involved in planning for one major utility. One of the challenges for communication for this kind of event is that you have both the utility power and customer equipment. The assumption of those experiencing the outage is power utility failure--much more likely that is customer equipment. But, there is great danger is finger pointing--so delicate messaging prepared in advance and good internal information flow is essential.
This event, like LIPA and Sandy, probably has most utility communicator's attention. One issue, is what you say, when, and how you say it. The bigger issue, is how you will get your message out. The early returns on this event seem to be that Entergy, the utility, and SMG, the Superdome manager, both messed up.
Here's a summary from the PR Daily's report:
Social media did not appear to be a major part of either organization’s crisis communications plan. Entergy posted three times to Facebook and only twice to Twitter. The outage wasn’t even mentioned on the Superdome’s Facebook page. The Superdome doesn’t have a Twitter account, nor does SMG. The management company doesn’t have an active Facebook page, either. Its bloghasn’t been updated since December.
One thing we keep saying in crisis communication today is just because you are not telling your story, it does not mean that your story is not being told. It will be told, but by others, including those who may not be friendly to you. That played out in spades during this outage. Here's how Forbes reported on how the information about the outage was told:
For a good chunk of the power outage, the only news to be had came from Twitter. Some was actual information, but the bulk were wisecracks in the dark with a considerably higher entertainment quotient than watching the players stand around while the adrenaline drained from their punished bodies.
Let's be clear on what this means:
- no media, not even the hundreds of them at the venue, was getting any info from either Entergy or SMG
- any information was coming from those tweeting (and there were lots and lots of them)
In a related twist, there were those ads. Companies paid mega-millions for the opportunity to gain exposure to this audience. But the ad winner likely didn't pay a dime. Oreo cookie tweeted soon after the blackout that you could still dunk an Oreo in the dark. Soon after there were over 10,000 retweets. As of now, there are over 15,000 retweets (for those wondering about a retweet, is when someone sees a tweet they like and send to their followers) (think about what this means for future TV events!)
More than proving the hero in outage communications (and proving that those organizations that don't use it don't belong in the big leagues), Twitter and other social media channels played a huge role in the Superbowl activities. Social media activity doubled over last year. And a high percentage of tweets were not about the game, but about the commercials.
- message map an outage at a major event (this applies to smaller utilities as well)
- if you're not using Twitter, well, nothing I or anyone else can say will probably change it.
- if you are not monitoring social media, you're in the dark
It's hard some times to see the forest from the trees, particularly if you are in the deep weeds of daily government or organization communications. But one big thing that is happening in our world is the expectation of engagement. That is participation. That is being part of decisions. That is being listened to and adjusting decisions based on what is being heard.
I've given some presentations to utilities about engagement. I point out Bank of America, Verizon, US Congress, Instagram, Netflix, Komen Foundation, Gap and others all who have run into crises because of lack of engagement. Not sure what I mean? Congress tried to pass SOPA and PIPA, intellectual property protections on the Internet, without properly engaging some very key stakeholders. The backlash turned into a stare-down between "the Internet" and Senator Reid. Reid blinked. Bank of America tried to implement a debit card fee, in part of make up for added costs from regulation. They didn't engage some important people--customers. Big issue, big black eye for the bank, no fee. Komen, well they made some funding decisions without engagement. They're still trying to recover. Netflix retooled its business model decoupling DVD and streaming with a price increase. Reasonable, but they didn't engage. They're still recovering.
How did this happen? How did we go from a world where people in powerful chairs used to making decisions that make sense to them suddenly find themselves in deep doo doo and having to back down? Like almost everything else, blame the Internet. These communication tools create a sense of intimacy with the entities and organizations that impact our lives. Chief Boyd has captured that idea as it relates to emergency management when he says "it's not our emergency." But, that needs to be expanded: "it's not our business decision, it's not our policy decision, it's not even our agency or organization."
Today it's not enough to hold a public hearing on a controversial siting issue. Engagement is much more involved than that. One major public utility established a very comprehensive many-element engagement process before proposing a significant rate hike. Unlike previous ones that were filled with tension and controversy, the engagement process went far to gain understanding and smooth the way. (Let me know if you'd like more details on this.) One army base commander used a wide range of digital communication tools to conduct a town hall meeting with troops, retirees and family members half a globe away. This is engagement today.
All this to alert you to an intriguing new option for engagement. Textizen is a tool designed specifically to enable governments to engage their citizens. You create a simple survey and citizens can respond via text giving you real time feedback on important issues. Textizen recently won the Knight Foundation award of $350,000 which should help it make more penetration into the government market.
Of course, this is only one tool and one example. There are loads of online survey tools available, plus plenty of other ways to engage your stakeholders. The truth is today you can't rely on one method because people choose their own ways to engage and not everyone chooses the same. But, the point is, you no longer really have a choice of whether to engage or not. Of course, you could just prepare to back down.
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Using the vast trove of information on the Internet has become a big part of our lives, including in emergency situations. It is now becoming accepted that doing searches using Google or Bing, along with Twitter and Facebook are a very important part of situation awareness. But there is a hidden store of data contained in the websites of one billion people around the globe that has not been readily accessible. That is about to change as Facebook just announced on January 15 that it is adding a powerful new search function.
I'm no Facebook expert (basically don't like it, to tell the truth) and I cannot tell how much this new function will add to the useful intelligence for operational and communication response. Reading this in-depth Wired article about the design and intention of "Graph Search" as it is called, it is clear that its focus remains connecting people and shared interests. The examples used in the demonstrations are finding people who share an interest in dogs, or getting photos from a trip a group took, or discovering who works at what employer. No doubt, as the article points out, this announcement has big implications for job searches, for Google, and for social networking. But what does it mean for emergency management and communications?
The product will be rolled out slowly and therefore not available to everyone for awhile so I haven't tried it. But it will be interesting to discover if using it you could get early warnings of pandemics, for example, or identify and thereby communicate directly with people with breathing difficulties or other conditions that make them vulnerable to certain exposures. I do think there may be great applicability to reputation issues, but not sure how far the search goes into comments referencing brands, and if it can do anything like sentiment analysis.
I'll be eager to hear from others who have tried searches related to crisis or emergency communications. If you have, let me know. But, when Facebook does something and says it is now making information from over one billion websites accessible that wasn't accessible before, you gotta think it's going to make a difference.
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Power outages are a big deal. When your power is out, particularly for longer than an hour or two, your life starts to really change. Consequently, outage communications is at the forefront of many of the challenges of crisis and emergency communication today. Superstorm Sandy demonstrated the issues in spades with Long Island Power Authority emerging as the primary black hat or villain in the many media stories about the storm and its impact.
Outage communications is an important topic for anyone in emergency communications to study. First, because it highlights better than most the huge and growing gap between customer and public expectations about communication and the preparation to meet those expectations of many if not most in the business. Second, because it clearly demonstrates that public outrage—amplified by the media—is typically about communication failures, not operational response failures. Third, because it shows the critical link between UGC (user generated content aka social media) and response effectiveness—both operational and communication response.
With this in mind, I’m pleased to have permission from CJ Huxford to share with you an online conversation he and I have been having about utility communication issues, particular power outages. CJ is a graduate geography student at Western Washington University in my hometown of Bellingham, Washington, and asked some very intriguing, thought-provoking questions about utilities and particular outage communication.
1. What tools do utilities use to monitor media outlets for information regarding their restoration protocols? What communication strategies and tools are used to respond to these statements (i.e. what media format is used to respond, how are these messages framed for social media vs. news media, if different)?
There are a wide variety of methods used by utilities for media and social media monitoring. Critical Mention is one of the leaders that I am aware of. I'm not sure I am clear on what you mean by media information regarding their restoration protocols. You may be referring to media coverage after a major outage that highlights weaknesses in restoring power, particularly when customers are complaining. You may want to look at the Long Island Power Authority following Superstorm Sandy, although I suspect you have. If I am interpreting your question right, most utilities that I have seen are stuck in an older pattern of communication that focuses on issuing press releases with an occasional press conference. However, many of the complaints and news reports of customer complaints about outage restoration are focused on failure to communicate directly with customers about outage and restoration status. Here is where most fail.
2. Are the lines between social media and news media becoming blurred when it comes to disaster related disruption and restoration of infrastructure (i.e. are news media outlets using social media to gain information for issues related to utility restoration)?
Absolutely. Twitter is now the primary news gathering method used by major news media. I was meeting with a power distribution manager when they had an outage. He had difficulty getting through to his dispatch center because they were busy working. I suggested Twitter and he found out from that method information about the outage. The really interesting question is whether or not Twitter is a news gathering tool or a media outlet itself. There was a recent article about how Twitter, and Facebook to a lesser extent, have become broadcast tools for organizations using them in that way. The point I make to utilities is that even if they do not really get the idea of communicating direct to customers and the public (and many seem not to) that Twitter is essential in providing relevant information to the media.
3. Is it more difficult to counter statements regarding an issue once it has been represented in the news media versus only in social media outlets?
Great question. I would say it depends on two factors--the length of time the misinformation has been passed around and how far and wide it has gone. Certainly, major news media have the potential to greatly expand and accelerate distribution of misinformation so from that standpoint it makes a big difference. But, social media alone also can spread misinformation quickly and broadly without any involvement in the media so in that sense it doesn't matter. One real key is the believability of the rumor or misinformation--much research has shown that the more the rumor fits the preconceived perceptions of the audience, the more believable and therefore the more easily spread.
4. Your most recent blog post nails something I have found in my study of the news media coverage of the power outages caused by the October 2011 Nor’easter; communication of the restoration was key. One issue a power utility expressed to me was the difficulty in communicating “ground truth” effectively. What methods would you recommend to a utility when communicating to the public restoration protocols given changing circumstances on the ground, such as during a large storm?
That's a big subject. First, you are right that the biggest problem that utilities face, as seen in all major outages in the last few years, is not their restoration problems (of which there are many) but in their failures to communicate properly with the public and customers. That failure consists of several things: - infrequent communication, non-direct communication, setting false expectations, lack of transparency and honesty.
I look first to their internal communication processes. Are they getting the information from the field and from customers about outages? Do they have an OMS (outage management system)? Who within the organization knows the status of outages, crews, where crews are dispatched, expected restoration time? The best I have seen have a way to automate that information flow to maps made available to the public via a website. Others strongly resist providing this kind of outage information publicly believing (wrongly I think) that it will contribute to crime. Whatever their policy or thoughts on that, the quicker, more automated, more direct they can get that information from dispatch or from their internal management systems out to customers and the public the better.
This is where the public affairs thinking of many managers fails them. They think that they need to issue a press release once or twice a day and that is communication. A big fail. Customers experiencing an outage want to know one thing: when are my lights coming back on? They have to put the processes, the technology in place to do that--or potentially face the annihilation of the organization as LIPA is facing now.
Setting proper expectations is critical. It is far better to tell customers to prepare for 72 hour outages in major outage events than it is to say "most will be restored in 12 hours" only to have a number take much longer than that. But, when setting those long expectations, you better explain why it is taking so long. For example, in some situations authorities have to inspect homes for gas leaks and other safety issues prior to power being restored--which may affect a larger neighborhood. This is sometimes difficult to accept.
One thing that really impressed me with Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s restoration communication following the December 1, 2011 storm was as the last homes and businesses were restored, they were extremely careful to announce full restoration. They went out of their way to identify the last places without power and restoring them before making the 100% announcement. That's to prevent the frustration of a few when the power utility says everyone is restored and they say, hey, wait a minute, not me. The media would love to use that kind of story.
5. Based on my research, it seems the longer statements regarding the restoration of utility services persist in the news media, the more likely there will be proposed policy related to that infrastructure in regards to future disasters, regardless of the effectiveness of the response. Could you comment on this? Is it more important for utilities to target their messages to specific media outlets or better to have a wide reaching message through multiple media platforms?
If I understand your question correctly, you are saying that if there is enough media coverage of angry customers about outages, then the regulators and legislators will step in to "fix" the problem. Is that right? Absolutely. We see that in outages as well as almost any other human-caused event. Some are outraged. The media feeds on and expands the outrage. Enterprising politicians step in, seeing an opportunity to enhance their reputation. Or regulators feel pressured by media reports and their political leaders to do something. It's an absolutely natural, predictable pattern that I talked about in “Now Is Too Late.”
But the answer is not better media communications. The answer is better customer communications. Any after action report where there was major customer outrage (such as Southern California Edison faced after the Dec 2011 storm) will focus on poor customer communication. If the customers are reasonably satisfied with the efforts being made and satisfied they are getting good information, the outrage will not be there. Even if the media find a few to complain and broadcast those complaints, the truth of general satisfaction will pervade. That's why public affairs people need to refocus their attention on improving customer communication.
6. In your opinion, can the media influence policy activity (proposed or enacted) regarding infrastructure in the aftermath of disaster related disruption and restoration of the respective infrastructure? If so, how? Is this different when referring to social media versus news media? Do private utilities factor the agenda setting role of media in their communication strategies? If so, how?
Media definitely impact policy. It is natural for politicians and regulators to read into the media reports of customer anger a much broader level of dissatisfaction than may exist. I don't think the media influence specific policy that much--editorials may recommend specific solutions but that is not where the power to influence comes in. The power comes from conveying, amplifying and even creating the outrage that feeds policy response. Regarding your last question about the agenda-setting role of media, I think both public and private utilities are very sensitive to media coverage and the impact on regulations, legislation, etc. Maybe even hyper-sensitive. I had the opportunity to address one major private utility on this issue, specifically related to coal. My message was that we live in a time where business leaders including utility leaders are not really free to make decisions without engagement. I've blogged on the numerous crises resulting from lack of engagement, from the Gap logo flap, to Bank of America, Verizon, Komen Foundation, Netflix, and most recently Instagram. You have to involve your stakeholders in major decisions. Or face the consequences. Again, it isn't so much a matter of the media setting an agenda and pursuing it. It is more the media being very eager to identify and amplify outrage--not because they are evil but because their business depends on getting eyes on the screen, and emotion is the proven way to do that. Outrage more than qualifies.
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