There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.

19 Jan

I’ve spoken before (Ho Ho Ho! Merry Twitmas Everyone!) about how social media has gone a bit nuts lately and has been hitting the headlines left right and centre around the speed at which things get reported by the general public – many an occasion before the media’s had a chance to report on it.

Well, last week saw probably the most amazing example of this yet! You’ll all have heard about the heroic emergency landing in the Hudson. What you may not have heard is that the very first pic of the incident was posted publicly by Janis Krums – on Twitter!!

And, this (on the left) is his, now very famous, tweet on it. There he was, minding his own business “leaving the city” and “trying to beat the traffic” (according to his previous tweet) – and he was caught up in one of the most amazing set of events that would hit headlines across the world – and change his life forever. Interestingly, in his twitter profile, he says “Always working on the next big thing” – well, you can’t really get bigger than this can you @jkrums!

Anyway, on seeing the plane landing, he immediately reached for his iPhone and took this picture, uploaded it to twitpic and posted his tweet.

He was the FIRST person to show a pic of the incident, beating EVERY major media organisation – many news organisations had heard about it and were trying to report on it – but just couldn’t get the pictures.

Within minutes, cyberspace was buzzing with the news as the tweet was retweeted, posted on blogs, emailed, IM’d and SMS’d- worldwide.

Such an amazing example of the power of social media and citizen journalism – something that itself has been talked about extensively over the past few days – even hitting the 10 o’clock news (for those that can look at YouTube, take a look at the ITV report here)! If you want to read more about what @jkrums has been up to since, check out his blog – “after the shot”.

With all this in mind, I thought I’d talk a bit more about the speed at which things get reported, and how this can sometimes lead to our employees feeling like they’re hearing about stuff in the media first…

So, why does it ‘feel’ like you hear first from the media?

Good question! Well, actually, 99% of the time, we do actually let you know first.

“Oh no you don’t” I hear many of you cry – but, honestly, it’s true. It just may not ‘feel’ like it. Here are some reasons why…

1. As a US listed company, there are certain SEC* (Securities and Exchange Commission) requirements which mean we can’t give information to any one particular group of people (including our employees) before others. So, for certain bits of news, like financial results for example, we can only communicate moments before or at exactly the same time as the story is filed externally. For more on SEC, check out the wikipedia definition.
2. With the technology that’s now available and the dynamic nature of media reporting, news (and even worse, gossip and speculation) can travel extremely fast (the Hudson emergency landing being a perfect example). No sooner has it hit the wires or a social network, automated news feeds and word of mouth kick in, and, before you know it, it’s headline news.
3. Many of us are plugged in brilliantly with the outside world – whether that’s through RSS feeds, social networks accessed through your phones & pcs or simply having a tv on in the office – you hear news as it breaks.
4. With a company as high profile as we are, there’s always a ton of rumour and speculation so there’ll be countless examples of inaccurate stuff floating around

A key priority for us in internal comms is to let you know stuff before anyone else – and we work really closely with everyone like PR, investor relations, the people team, product management etc to make sure we’ve got the information we need, when we need it – so we can in turn, let you know before, or at least at the same time, as everyone else.

With the power and speed of things like twitter, it’s getting harder, but it’s one of our top priorities and a key objective for everyone in my team.

I’d love to hear from you on breaking news you’ve heard first through things like twitter or if you’ve got any comments or ideas on how I can make sure you hear it first from us!

PS. If you want to join an ever growing community of Virgin Media twits, sign up to twitter and follow @VMGrapevine. And, if you want to follow me, I’m @abisignorelli.

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