Woman-and-man-reading-Dai-007 This may sound obvious but as I have observed several online crises unfold for brands over the last couple of years, I noticed one plan of prevention:

Read the news.

If you're a social media strategists, community manager, PR pro etc etc, reading the news should be part of your daily routine.

I don't mean Mashable, TechCrunch, The Next Web type of news where you're spending all of your reading time learning about the newest app, startup or rumored Apple release. I'm talking about other news that lives outside of our little technology bubble. I'm not trying to discredit reading a lot of tech news, it's what keeps us afloat day-to-day and should be taken seriously. I personally spend part of my morning watching the technology news via WSJ Live and reading other social news via all of the sites I've mentioned.

However, I've seen more PR crises occur that could have been avoided just by reading the news.

We have global audiences

Sure, you may manage a brand that doesn't feel large enough to be "global" but our content is accessible by most of the world. A statement, social post or misguided attempt at newsjacking isn't limited to our small audience but potentially available to every person with internet access. Not having at least a surface-level knowledge of what is going on in the world (or at least what is top of mind for people outside of our marketing tech bubble) could make what was intended to be an innocent post or response into something that unintentionally offends a group of people.

If you offend one group of people, you run the risk of falling victim to the internet mob.

My News Consuming Process

I try and catch up on news via my WSJ Live app on my TV at home while I'm making breakfast or morning coffee. For world news, I try and rotate the news channels I watch. Some mornings I may watch CNN while other days I may throw on Fox News. Most people have preferences for one or the other but hearing different takes on the same current event helps my perspective to hear different reporting angles and points of view. We also have news running all the time on a few TV screens around the office at DeMoss.

Not every day is so flexible (most are not) and I may only have 5-10 minutes to catch up on what is going on in the world. That's where things like my Yahoo News Digest and Circa help keep me a little up-to-date. I've found that spending just those few minutes scanning news briefs (and not just headlines) helps me keep my head out of the sand just a little bit in regards to world events.

It's part of the job

In social, or really most realms of marketing and PR, we have to know a little bit about everything. Our plates are stacked and it's hard enough to keep up with what is going on in our own industry much less ALSO know a little about everything else. It doesn't feel fair but it's the job we signed up for. A lack of knowledge in one area could accidentally help your brand be the victim of Ghana/giraffe activists that come out of the woodwork when you send a World Cup tweet with what I assume was the cheapest stock photography you could use in that moment.

How do you keep up with the news? Any tricks or favorite apps?