Note from the editor: The following tips were retrieved from Jane Jordan-Meier’s new book, The Four Stages of Highly Effective Crisis Management: How to Manage the Media in the Digital Age.
As I read Jane’s new book, I came across the following tips for using social media during emergencies, borrowed from a White Paper written by Booz Allen Hamilton. These tips are so thorough and complete that I just needed to get permission to post them on my blog, for all of you to benefit from!
Tips for using social media during emergencies
- Make social media efforts message driven, not channel driven.
- Embrace every possible teaching moment so that your social media networks can grow.
- Tap into all available resources. Do you have a large cadre of volunteers?
- Consider training them as social media ambassadors.
- Keep messages brief and pertinent. People are not really reading; they are scanning.
- Make sure you can receive public input. Remember that social media involves not just you talking to the public but also them talking to you and each other.
- Use social media to support a unified message. Instead of creating a new message for social media, use social media to support your existing message in a larger communications model.
- Have a Plan B. Suppose phone lines are jammed and/or computers are down – what will you do?
- Forge partnerships for sharing methods and messages. Federal agencies, for example, need to reach out to the private sector, and vice versa.
- Focus on people when formulating your communication plan. Networks of people will get work done, even when there is no electricity.
- Avoid elitism or the belief that people in charge know more and the general public is prone to misbehavior.
- New technologies are not simply new types of media with which to so the same old things. These new media signal a shift in thinking about how we communicate with our audiences.
- Avoid the “shiny new object syndrome” (being quick to adopt every new social media outlet that emerges… as soon as it emerges).
Source: Booz Allen Hamilton, “Goodbye Sources, Messages, Channels and Receivers: Hello Network”, White Paper from American Public Health Association Expert Round Table on Social Media and Risk Communication during Time of Crisis, March 2009
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.
Brad Nixon says
Excellent tips. One specific action enterprises of any size can take in preparation is to have a placeholder crisis article or post waiting on the website as a draft. In any circumstance that affects your ability to conduct business, have someone delegated to provide the key facts and impact on the business into that page and post it as the most current "news" or "update" to the company home page. Ideally, this is the item that replicates to Twitter, Facebook and other online presences. Send a similar message out to any email distribution networks including customers and vendors, so that everyone has the current facts about your status.
Melissa Agnes says
A placeholder response is always a strong idea – and making it easily findable on your website, instantly sharing it on your social media accounts, Linkedin connections and email lists is a strong and affirmative action to take in an emergency.
Thanks for the great comment, Brad!