Over the past couple of weeks the media has been flooded with rape allegations against Bill Cosby. Around twenty women, including former supermodel, Janice Dickinson, have come forward accusing the television star of taking advantage of them. On almost any news outlet you can find the similar reports of all of the women, claiming to have been drugged and violated by Cosby. The assaults allegedly began in as early as 1969 and have lead up into the past ten years. It is also said that Cosby knowingly violated girls as young as 15 years old.
What some might not know or remember was that Cosby’s assault chargers were brought up this past February as well, in response to the news circulating Woody Allen raping his daughter. One of the articles addressing this had stated that no one really wanted to live in a world where Bill Cosby was seen as a sexual predator because it was too much to handle. Although the allegations were in the air again, NBC still continued to push through a show they were creating with Cosby at the time.
This past October, comedian, Hannibal Buress, went viral when he regarded Cosby as a rapist in one of his stand-up acts. He later told Howard Stern that he thought of Cosby as a hypocrite, telling black people how to live, yet raping young women.
Just a little over ten days later, Barbara Bowman shared her story. She personally thanked Buress for speaking out against Cosby numerous times. From there many other women came forward. What Bowman can’t believe is why it took thirty years for people to finally believe her story.
Protests flared in Ferguson, MO in early August when the black 18 year old Michael Brown was shot dead by white officer Darren Wilson. Riots have been going on for the past months due to the fact that it is believed that Brown had been surrendering before being shot six times.
The media has been involved since the beginning, inserting themselves into the protests, some reporters being arrested as thought to be rioters.
This past week the media has been covering the impending verdict of Officer Wilson, which was given today. The charges against Wilson ranged from first degree murder to involuntary manslaughter. This morning he was not guilty on all charges.
Today the media has been flooded with images of the riots that burst out after the verdict was released. Rioters have been setting things such as police cars and local stores on fire and looting local businesses. Bottles and rocks have been thrown at police officers and newscasters alike. In one newscast, after the journalist was hit in the head with the rock, stated that she had been hit with much worse during her time covering what has been happening in Ferguson.
Instead of focusing on the case, media coverage has been heavily focused on the riots. Many rioters have also taken a part of citizen journalism in way of making sure that people are able to see what is really happening, before being possibly filtered and altered by the news sources.
Jennifer Jones is a global leader in social media marketing. In one of her many blog posts, she addresses the topic of crisis communication. In the post, she pulls from FDR’s fireside chats and how he dealt with the Great Depression.
Jones lists these six steps of crisis communication ideas that could be very beneficial for an organization or person stuck in a crisis.
- Reach out to your audience where they are; connect with them personally and directly.
- Tell the truth. Speak honestly and plainly about what happened – what went wrong.
- Explain how you will fix the problem in the short term; how you will make things right.
- Also, explain how you will ensure the problem will never happen again.
- Tell your listener what they need to do (i.e. return a defective product or change passwords.)
- Follow-up with details showing how the solution is working and use specific examples.
What I got out of Jones’ blog was how important communication is when apart of a crisis. Hiding things and not involving all those affected rarely gets you anywhere and having little communication can really lead the problem and feelings of all those involved to worsen. When people are told the truth, given details on how the problem plans to be solved, etc, they tend to be calmer, easing the tension of the situation a bit. A well laid out plan given to all of the people is extremely beneficial because it lessons room for chaos and allows the people to know that the situation is being handled. Jones’ points are good because they show how sometimes people need to be directed and in a sense told that everything will be alright and is being handled. Without clear communication it only leads the people of a crisis to worry further. It is easy for things to be accomplished and for the people to have trust and faith in those trying to solve a situation when everyone is constantly informed. It is important to make a connection with the people in a crisis, to let them know that they’re all in it together, and to try to calm their worries by letting them know exactly how the situation is being fixed. As Jones says, honesty will only make you stronger on the other side.