Agenda-Setting: Showbiz, Sports, and Social Media

I don’t think there’s anyone that gives their college thesis a second thought years after graduation, unless they use it as springboard for post-graduate studies. Even so, that constitutes a small portion of the global population. Then there are the dorks like me that seem to never completely erase from their system a labor of love.

My college thesis (co-developed with the most amazing thesis partner, Jackie E.) was entitled, “Probing the Celebrity Beat: An Exploratory Study on How Television News Creates Celebrities.” Essentially, it was a combination of analyses on how media conglomerates operated and the content of evening news, with special attention on the placement and emphasis on celebrity news vis-a-vis hard/serious/public affairs news.

One critical theory that we used in our conceptual framework was the Agenda-Setting Theory, which states that the news media significantly influence their audience by their choices of what are newsworthy items and how much prominence and space are allotted to these. Media have the power to dictate what is salient to their audiences.

Ever wondered why there are no legitimate movie stars anymore? It’s because media conglomerates in the Philippines are primarily driven by the television business, and as this is a heavily cutthroat industry (the ratings game being just the tip of the iceberg), these conglomerates utilize various platforms to promote what gives them the largest profit margins. As such, the lines between what is entertainment/show business/soft news and what is public affairs/hard news increasingly blur. News and public affairs channels are heavily utilized for publicity of entertainment.

This shouldn’t come as too surprising that the prevalence of showbiz should also permeate the realm of sports. This comes in a variety of ways, including the treatment of athletes as showbiz darlings (with particular focus on dating status) and as of yesterday, during the football match between the Philippines and Sri Lanka, the excessive display of a network’s celebrity attending a match that the network is covering, buoyed by the juicy tidbit that said celebrity is dating a striker in the national team. It may be a treat for the celebrity couple’s legions of fans, a headache to the fans of football, and for me, blatant agenda-setting.

Which now leads to the next part of this entry. So what happens when a few people complain (yes, admittedly, with the use of swear words) about such coverage—the audience is not entirely faceless and stupid after all, they know when it it already too blatant of an agenda-setting. What is up with the excessive cut-away shots to said celebrity after the striker either shoots a goal or flops to the ground?

Would anyone have expected this response?

In the Twitterverse, there’s a generally low level of expectations for a reply in return among brands. As it is a platform for what generally are brain farts and continuing conversations, messages can get easily buried in the fray.

However, brands (and social media managers of official accounts) must remember that they cannot stop people from tweeting/voicing out their opinions, and in a language/manner that is wholly uncensored. This is not a platform for editing. People will tweet what they feel at that moment, and you cannot stop them from doing so. Brands that are scared of engaging in the online social space will say that it places them at a clear disadvantage.

However, what they may be missing out on is that this is a good space to win the critics over (and I will happily cite @SKYserves for this; they may not reply within the first five minutes of your tweet, but if you tweet them, it does lead to action). If you must reply, reply in a manner that shows you sincerely care about their inputs. People just need a reassurance that you are listening (and that you are taking action, when applicable). The last thing that they would want to receive is a snooty, arrogant reply. Worse, do not make a snooty, arrogant reply, then delete it (because you never know who’s framing it for posterity with a screen capture). It’s just like an irate customer on your hotline—you’d be keen to placate them, because Word of Mouth (WOM) is quite powerful.

As for anyone wanting to know, this may be the ending to that tussle:


Now I still don’t know if that was in reference to the tweet captured in the first photo of this post.

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6 comments

  1. Hi Mika! Just a thought, do you actually believe that another admin posted that snooty reply and not the main admin? Because if I’m not the main admin, I wouldn’t have the guts to say those words. Isn’t it just an escape goat? Oh well! We’ll never know. Thanks anyway for posting this.

    • Hi Claire,

      Thank you for your comment. To be honest, it never crossed my mind that it could be the same admin posting as the “main admin” that tweeted that generic apology (which, to begin with, I’m not even sure if is actually for that earlier tweet to us—I’m not sure if there have been other instances of knee-jerk responses similar to those). Now that you have raised it, it is very plausible—after all, we don’t even know how many people are actually managing that account. Yes, it does feel like deflecting the issue by vaguely identifying a scapegoat.

  2. From a PR standpoint, whether it’s a main admin or a secondary admin is beside the point — there was no mistaking the tone of that first tweet. By command responsibility, the media entity should be held accountable to what was posted on their social media outlet, and blaming one of their admins, they’re washing their hands of the whole matter.

    If the apology was sincere, they should have tweeted you directly the second time around, after they so rudely told you off the first time.

    Whatever is tweeted to them by the public, they should respond in a professional manner, in keeping with the image they want to maintain for their business. But if they choose to be crass for everyone in twitterverse to see, well, they should be able to deal with the consequences of what can potentially be a PR disaster for them.

    And apparently they’re now trying to cover up, having taken down that offensive tweet, and putting up an apology tweet to no one in particular. I’m betting they didn’t expect the backlash.

  3. I think DJ Mo somehow got hold of that account. “Hey I’m getting a cup of coffee. Can you do this for a while? I’ll be quick.”

    😉


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