Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Crisis communications in the age of social convergence

Hello everyone!

I did a presentation today to a group of media relations officers and other officials from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. A great bunch of candidates on the course, some of whom I worked with during my secondment to the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) working on the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit. It was great seeing them again!

I had the advantage of following Sgt. Tim Burrows from the Toronto Police Service (on Twitter:

@TrafficServices) who did a masterful job speaking on social media and law enforcement. I took over with my presentation on the impact of social media on crisis comms planning.

A few key points from today and they follow what my good friend Gerald Baron posted earlier today on some reasons why crisis communications plans fail. One more reason I'd add to the ones listed in Gerald's piece: executives and elected officials putting the plan aside and improvising ...

Back to the observations of the day:

  1. If you're not doing social media, either as part of your normal comms/outreach or as a crisis communications tool, you're in the wrong business ...
  2. using SM tools does not mean you can control the information (see Jim Garrow's post on that)
  3. establishing a solid presence on social networks will help you deal with a crisis when it arises.
  4. organizations that operate (both in routine and in crisis) under a philosophy of transparency and openness, do better in the age of social convergence
  5. in a crisis (or disaster), your audiences, clients, stakeholders will want to participate, be involved and not simply be victims, witnesses or passive observers ...
  6. social media is a great amplifier ... in a crisis it will help bring to light the good and the bad and will immensely increase expectations for prompt information/response coming from you
  7. the only way to cope with the increased expectations: having a sound crisis comms plan that is exercised often, flexible, adaptable and integrates SM.

Hope this makes some sort of sense!

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