Thursday, February 3, 2011

Key observations following a presentation on social media and crisis communications

I finally had the occasion today to present a variation of my talk on the impact of social media on crisis communications planning to the people I work with everyday. As is often the case is our busy existence, I had not had time until now, to address this key audience.

I'm glad I was able to share a few observations with colleagues and I hope that my enthusiasm was contagious.

Here's the link to the actual presentation.

As I always try not to give the same exact presentation and continuously update my talk whether it's about social media in emergency management, law enforcement or crisis communications, preparation is the key and also a good occasion to take a step back and confirm, or challenge, my assumptions.

A few notes then:

  1. don't confuse the tool for the objective or strategy: yes, social media is a great crisis communications tool ... but that's exactly what it is ... a channel, a way to a means ... a fantastic option to communicate effectively.
  2. Social media allows you to respond immediately and very efficiently if it's part of your overall crisis communications plan and not just a spur of the moment thing.
  3. To achieve this ... social media must be integrated in all components of your plan:
    • Policies/Procedures: who does what, who can post on your SM accounts? when ?
    • People: are they trained? Do they know how to best use and monitor SM?
    • Preparation: are your key messages social media friendly? how can you adapt them for twitter use for example? 
    • Practice: do you have confidence that the people implementing the plan can use SM effectively? Well, there are services now that allow you to tweet and post on facebook as if it were real ... although no one can see these trials ...
    • What this means ... there's now a fifth P in platform for social media platform.
  4. For effective use of social media in emergency management and crisis communications, you must focus on listening, adopting the right tone. You need a broad social monitoring program that allows you to respond quickly to false rumours, questions from stakeholders and your audiences and generally engage in real conversations that allow you to be heard over the din.
  5. In addition, SM is proving to be more and more of a valuable tool for emergency managers and authorities as people contribute valuable emergency information through Twitter, YouTube or Facebook ... Crisis mapping being a very good example.
I focused on these various topics and I think my colleagues liked what they heard. Keeping the attention and interest of such a group of professionals is always a challenge ... so I consider it a success because they kept interrupting me with questions throughout !

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