Monday, October 3, 2011

Selling social media to emergency managers and government officials

I'm in Ottawa where I've just delivered a presentation on the use of social media in emergency management. The  occasion is the Conference Board of Canada's conference on social media in government.

As my train neared our nation's capital, I was thinking how to best adjust the "pitch" those of use who believe in SM in EM, must use to convince agencies to move toward the ultimate objective of a "community-based situational awareness".

For more on this, see my previous post.

The key is a staged approach. Any presentation on SMEM should focus on the following:

  • explanation of the basic social media tools during an emergency (what twitter is for, Facebook's forte, Youtube's power, the use of hashtags)
  • showcase the resiliency of social media during disasters
  • case studies on the use of SM during recent disasters (post 2009) 
  • describing a staged approach in implementing SM into EM (see above link)
To be effective, we need to go beyond the recent Congressional Research Service report which was mired in ante-2009 examples (the infancy of SM use in disasters) ... a lot has changed in the last 2-3 years.

I like this graphic for the simple purpose of basic awareness of SMEM.

It's key for us who champion the use of SM in EM to not forget the very basic of social networking and to have the ability to explain their benefits in disasters clearly and simply.

Not to focus on current popular platforms but on what they allow and the opportunities they offer the emergency management community.

The danger we face is to talk about QR codes, crowdsourcing and crisis mapping to an audience that is still grappling with putting info into a 140 character format.

Champions can't keep on preaching in a desert. They need to connect and convince, show good ROI and emerging accepted practices in SMEM to build up the confidence level from top executives and elected officials.

That's a hard task ... One that will go on for a while yet ...

I know i haven't managed to cover all the bases in the presentation I gave today but, hopefully, I was entertaining enough to pique the curiosity of the many civil servants who were in the room.


  1. Great blog. It will be very useful for future reference and awareness campaigns. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Accurate and useful. A reference in emergency management.Thanks for sharing.

  3. Accurate and useful. A reference in emergency management. Thanks for sharing.