Since yesterday’s post, I’ve been thinking a lot about the This Too Shall Pass Effect. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how the effect applies to issues management. After all, can public affairs and political campaigns reliably count on the the ADD nature of the social web in their handling of the unexpected? Do issues really pass overnight? Over the weekend? Or, is online chatter affected by how campaigns manage crisis? Do I need to consider the possibility of a Cascading Crisis Curve to illustrate a Here It Goes Again Effect?[NOTES ON THE ANALYSIS: I’ve focused the analysis on Twitter which I often describe as a voluntary, self-selected focus group which presents data in real time. The analysis in this post was performed using Sysomos MAP.]
Most of the examples I’ve observed and written about fall into the former category. Consider the Auditor General’s draft report on G8 spending which was leaked on April 11, 2011 — during last year’s federal election. The story broke in the morning. An afternoon news conference by John Baird was enough to assure the majority of the public that the contentious language was not present in subsequent drafts of the report.
And there’s the predictable This Too Shall Pass Curve — the slope of fatigue is as dramatic as the slope of interest. It was really just a 12 hour issue. Three cycles of Tylenol and a good sleep then off to the English debate.
The same was true of firestorm of public displeasure over the details contained within proposed Bill C-30. The (now gone) @VikiLeaks30 Twitter account and #TellVicEverything movement drove a significant amount of online traffic. It was a huge headache for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and the Conservative Party; the online assault and reports that some of their own weren’t comfortable with the Bill as presented caused the Government to suggest they’ll consider revisions to the proposed bill.
And there’s the TTSP curve; quickly up, quickly down. A dull murmur continues among the most passionate observers, analysts and assigned media. It was essentially a three day issue. A few days of Tylenol, possibly some codeine with a good meal, then a relaxing weekend with the family before business as usual. In fact, a majority of the continuing murmur is because of the very public activities by Vic Toews and the House to gain closure.
There are other examples I’ve written about that were positive. That is, the TTSP curve was reflected in a campaign calling for public participation in change for good. #kony2012 was not a crisis though has apparently been affected by the ADD nature of the social web.
However, I’m able to illustrate that an issue can linger if poorly managed. Take for example the ongoing issue of election robocalls and allegations of voter suppression using that contentious technology. It’s an issue in which fresh suppression accusations and investigations are announced nearly every day, all of which are met with counter accusations (some of which have been proven false) from the Conservative Caucus.
This is a very different curve. I’ll call this a Cascading Crisis Curve. This kind of approach to issues management is clearly less productive thus requiring something stronger than your average pain killer. I propose this shows a spontaneous-reactive approach which never actually clears the issue from the mind of the public, or positions the public to decide they can move on from the issue.
I think it’s fair to say the robocall issue won’t be going away any time soon.[Thank you to OK Go for giving me great song titles to apply to my analysis of campaigns and issues.]