Signal Leadership Communication Inc. (SLC), a social PR consultancy for executives dealing with digital disruption, today released the results of a new Nanos Research public opinion poll of 1,000 Canadians which has found that social media is seen as the medium most able to cause damage to public image.
84% of respondents surveyed said that social media ‘can do a great deal of damage to the image of an individual or organization’. Only 71% felt this was true of both online news and broadcast television, while just over half (52%) said it about print newspapers and just under half (48%) about radio.
“The danger of social media to inflict image damage is real, so leaders need to take this powerful PR threat to their reputation seriously,” said Bob Pickard, Principal of SLC. “Social media is not just about selling to a mass audience; it’s about relationships with real individuals who experience and share a wide range of emotions with their online communities. Corporate communicators – not just brand marketers – need to design social media presence accordingly and invest the necessary resources. It all starts with the leaders, with whom an often-demanding public increasingly seeks to have a direct personal connection through online networks.”
While social media is the channel that is most dangerous to reputation, people look to online news outlets when they want timely information. Asked to rate various sources for timely news delivery, 71% of Canadians viewed online news as ‘extremely timely’ followed by radio (60%), broadcast television (59%), social media (41%) and print newspapers (27%).
“Social media increasingly shapes the way that news is produced and perceived, so it is crucial for leaders to carefully plan their approach to both traditional and new mediums,” said SLC Principal Janice Mandel. “There is very little time today for public relations storytelling. Instead, there is a need to be nimble and respond appropriately as a story plays out. Good judgment and digital savvy are key to managing reputation. There’s far more risk for something to go wrong and explode virally. If it does, the public’s attention is on the leaders online — so they themselves need to understand this new digital dynamic.”