The 24-second News Cycle

The news is rapid fire and waits for no one. Staying ahead of it requires focused attention and decision making.

What struck me during the day was just how much faster the world was moving, and how marketing, PR and crisis response teams are glued to dashboards to both understand what’s happening and get humans moving faster.

It starts with the new “24-second news cycle.”

The presenters hailed from a diverse set of companies, including Airbnb, Boeing, NVIDIA and Uber. What brought them together, however, was how the accelerating news cycle is changing the way they communicate with their external stakeholders (customers, partners, regulators, the general public) and internal teams (legal, HR/compliance, sales and marketing).

Below were three insights that stuck out to me:

Breaking news is breaking faster. In the 1980s, a story came out in the morning and was detailed on the evening news. In the 1990s, we saw the rise of television cable news, which sped the delivery of news and information. But these days, it’s a 24 second news cycle – where someone posts a Snapchat Story, and it’s instantly shared across multiple social feeds, blogs, online video newscasts, and more.

Everyone needs a seat at the table. You don’t want to be the only one dealing with a crisis. Brands and PR agencies shared stories of how they quickly got legal, HR/compliance, marketing, investor relations AND PR around the table when something negative was impacting their brand. In a situation where every second matters, effective communication is critical.

Machines don’t do it all (and can’t). Big data, machine learning, algorithms, natural language processing – these terms are on every press release, in every company blog, and in every technology CEO presentation. But it was clear that nobody onstage thought machines could do it all. Why? Because in the 24-second news cycle, you are evaluating and making important responses very quickly (correcting a story 30 minutes after it first posts, for example. This requires you to remove older decision making processes. And technology can actually speed your response and help you better understand the 24-second news cycle. But it can’t do all this alone – human supervision is still required to make sense of large amounts of unstructured data.

The conference closed with a speech from three-time Super Bowl winning Coach Mike Shanahan, who recounted his players’ tenacity and unyielding drive to improve themselves. Shanahan recounted how players on his teams, after playing in a high-pressure NFL game, would return to the field and work on their technique. That was incredibly inspiring, and proof that even “the greats” know they need to constantly evaluate their performance and contributions to a team.

Want to learn more about how speed trumps accuracy in today’s shared media landscape? Check out our full report: “Falling for Fakery,” which highlights how we’re programmed for high velocity sharing, where speed often trumps accuracy.

news cycles
public relations
media relations

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