Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 10 #smem technologies: at number 4 ...GPS

I hear the cries now ... How can GPS be a social media technology ? Well, that's when I bring up the fact that "social convergence in emergency management" is actually a better moniker than "social media in emergency management". What makes this revolution possible in the world of disaster management is actually much broader than social networks.

So, my rationale for my choice of the #4 technology that enables this seismic change is the same one that made the crisis mapping platform the obvious number 5 choice: pinpointing information on a map is a priceless support to effective decision-making in an emergency.

We are far removed from the birth of the Global Positioning System's as a military tech ...It's now omnipresent. Cars will soon be able to drive passengers anywhere in safety because of it.

GPS is also everywhere in emergency management. Latest developments help authorities issue alerts faster ... for tsunamis or earthquakes for example.

GPS can help with damage assessment and can help response agencies track resources and equipment. It's a great tool for critical infrastructure operators too.

While not a new phenomenon, the geospatial revolution in emergency management has gained a lot of momentum since 2009. FEMA for one, is taking full advantage of this by inserting a "disaster reporter" feature in its mobile app that marries GPS and damage assessment ... building on the growing use of mobile tech, videos and pictures by people impacted by disasters.

That's where the power of GPS lies for emergency managers: the people they serve ... have the ability to make their lives easier ...speed up response and recovery ... by sending in information (often in the form of pics/vids) with pinpoint GPS coordinates ... that can be instantly put on a map.

Now, that's empowerment! That's why GPS, as a key component of the social convergence equation, sits at number 4 on my list of top 10 SMEM technologies.

The series so far: 

#5: the crisis mapping platform (Dec. 27)
#6: Skype and Google Hangout (Dec. 17)
#7: Facebook (Dec. 12)
#8: SMS (Dec. 8)
#9: the mobile app (Dec. 5)
#10: Youtube (Dec. 3)

Series introduction (Nov. 29)

Jim Garrow's blog 
Kim Stephen's blog

Friday, December 27, 2013

top 10 smem technologies: at number 5: the crisis mapping platform

After a bit of a hiatus (see #onstorm and #icestorm on Twitter), I'm coming back to my list of top 10 smem technologies as part of my (and Kim Stephens and Jim Garrow too) Holiday countdown tradition.

For many in emergency management, maps are a perfect visualization tool: a quick glance helps gauge the situation .... evaluate needs, anticipate deployment of resources. Nowhere is social convergence more useful ... 

The actual platform doesn't actually matter ... We all have our preferences. What is important is that crisis mapping of crowdsourced information can be a lifesaving tool. Satellite imagery, crowdsourced image verification: all the key SMEM components are there. 

It's the ideal marriage of GIS tech and social media. This was evident as recently as a few weeks ago in the response to typhoon Haiyan.

So whether it's Google Maps, ESRI, Ushahidi/Crowdmap or Tweak the Tweet, the results should be the same: collaboration among, and empowerment, of citizens/volunteers and more up-to-date info/data for agencies. When done right, that equals to greater resilience and a better response to emergencies.

There is no doubt that crisis mapping is a powerful storyteller too ... more and more media outlets frequently create their own maps during a disaster or emergency. In the current flooding in the UK for example .... or to show the aftermath of a tornado outbreak.

Academia is giving it credentials ... it's clearly the wave of the future in SMEM. That's why it's number five in the top 10 list of SMEM tech.

The series so far: 

#5: the crisis mapping platform (Dec. 27)
#6: Skype and Google Hangout (Dec. 17)
#7: Facebook (Dec. 12)
#8: SMS (Dec. 8)
#9: the mobile app (Dec. 5)
#10: Youtube (Dec. 3)

Series introduction (Nov. 29)

Jim Garrow's blog 
Kim Stephen's blog

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

At number 6 on the list of top 10 #smem technologies Skype (and Hangouts too !...)

Nothing quite beats Skype (and to a certain measure Google+ hangouts) for the ability to coordinate virtual teams in emergencies.

For that reason, Skype stands at number 6 on my list of top 10 #smem technologies (alongside Hangout and Vimeo among others). 

Well beyond the ability to establish a direct video link from anywhere on the planet, Skype’s chat feature provides a vital lifeline for the coordination of crisis mapping and other VOST (Virtual Operations Support Team) efforts.

As a case in point, Skype chat was the conduit for coordination and assignments for the CanVOST proof-of-concept deployment earlier this year in support of the Canadian Red Cross response to the Alberta floods. And the service is useful (as is Google Hangout) as a tool for distance/virtual training of team members. It’s a key reason the use of Skype’s chat functionality is embedded in VOST manuals.

Another key use is the ability to use video platforms (Skype and Google Hangouts) for virtual training. 

The series so far: 

#6: Skype and Google Hangout (Dec. 17)
#7: Facebook (Dec. 12)
#8: SMS (Dec. 8)
#9: the mobile app (Dec. 5)
#10: Youtube (Dec. 3)

Series introduction (Nov. 29)

Jim Garrow's blog 
Kim Stephen's blog

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The top social network is at #7 on my list of top 10 SMEM tech ... yeah, Facebook !

Facebook is often the first or second social network adopted by agencies jumping on the #smem bandwagon. It's a logical next step on the social convergence continuum

In my various presentations to first responder and emergency management agencies, one of the few practices I recommend is to use Facebook to mirror the preparedness and emergency info that's on their website. My experience tells me that websites tend to crash under heavy volumes in a disaster while Facebook will likely stay up.

Freak wave passes through Toowoomba on January 10.A key example of the use of Facebook to provide an emergency info lifeline is the work by the Queensland Police Service during the floods a couple of years ago. Since then, the QPS social media activities have been hailed as "best practices". When government websites experienced difficulties ... the QPS got on the social media beat with great success.

But Facebook's use goes beyond just providing information (although information IS aid ) ... it's a fantastic tool to help speed up community-led recovery. A prime demonstration of this occurred in Joplin, MO, following a devastating tornado. The citizen-created and driven Joplin Recovery Page on FB became a key engine in helping the town recover and move on. This phenomenal use of SM was noted by many commentators including Kim Stephens and Jim Garrow (my two compadres ! ). The media got in on the act too.

More recently, as tornadoes tore a path of destruction throughout the Southern US, Facebook provided a great tool to help people recover some of their belongings and cherished keepsakes. You can call it crowdsourcing hope ... as we must acknowledge the power of recovering some good and fond memories in the midst of catastrophic events.

It also helped scientist figure out the inner workings of the twisters.

If Facebook can help people reconnect with some of their belongings ... what about helping families and friends find out if disaster victims are safe? Well, it does that too! Only as a test (Disaster Message Board) in Japan at the moment but a broader rollout is not to be excluded.

Finally, FB has proven to be a very effective volunteer coordination tool. Christchurch and the aftermath of the earthquake are foremost in that regard. The Student Volunteer Army's Facebook page was the start of an extraordinary mobilization effort using socially-convergent tools.

For all those reasons and its omnipresence in our lives (particularly in older segments of the population), Facebook is a key #smem technology and sits at number 7 in my top 10 list.

The series so far: 

#7: Facebook (Dec. 12)
#8: SMS (Dec. 8)
#9: the mobile app (Dec. 5)
#10: Youtube (Dec. 3)

Series introduction (Nov. 29)

Jim Garrow's blog 
Kim Stephen's blog

Sunday, December 8, 2013

at #8 on my list of top 10 SMEM technologies; SMS

The next entry in my top 10 list of socially-convergent technologies (a series of posts over the Holiday season simultaneous with SMEM thought leaders: Kim Stephens and Jim Garrow) deals with SMS (or short messaging service).

Simply put, SMS is a lifesaving technology. Combined with the power of crisis mapping platforms, SMS can great enhance the ability of authorities to fully comprehend the consequences of a disaster. 

Nowhere was this more in evidence than in Haiti, following the devastating earthquake of 2010. It turns out that mapping messages sent out on SMS can help with damage assessment.

A global community used SMS to provide very accurate information to rescue teams on the ground and to ensure aid got to where it was needed most

So it works. Why? Because in many parts of the world, and even in North America, despite the growing prevalence of smart/superphones ... SMS is still a favourite tool. That's why it proved essential again, as recently as in the aftermath of the recent typhoon which devastated the Philippines. 

Often, when voice networks are overburdened following a disaster, SMS messages will still go through. Is it foolproof? Probably not. But the technology is ultimately empowering in a crisis for many people around the world ... provided it's used the right way

Because it is such a powerful tool, with increasing uses, efforts are being made worldwide to standardize its applications in disasters.

From being part of public alerting tools to allowing the global community to come to the aid of areas impacted by disasters, SMS text messaging is here to stay in emergency management. In fact, despite possible drawbacks (think of the SMS-spread rumours that gripped India) ... more and more people are using SMS to get on social networks when/where they don't have other options ... or don't want to pay for big data plans or run down their battery!

Because of its near ubiquitous nature and its ability to be a critical lifeline in disasters/crises, the SMS tech comes in at number 8 on my top 10 list.

The series so far: 

#8: SMS (Dec. 8)
#9: the mobile app (Dec. 5)
#10: Youtube (Dec. 3)

Series introduction (Nov. 29)

Jim Garrow's blog 
Kim Stephen's blog

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Top 10 social convergence tech ... at number 9: the mobile app

There everywhere ! Some people have hundreds of them on their mobile devices. Yes, mobile apps rule ... For gaming, entertainment news and banking, they help us do everything. And they can save lives too! 

It was only logical that organizations would tap into the mobile revolution and the use of devices in disasters and create all sorts of emergency management related apps. First, came the emergency preparedness app. People are on the go, so what better way to bring the EP message right to their pocket or purse? Again, the Red Cross was among the pioneers and they've continued to improve their digital prep tools ever since.

A different use of the app as a preparedness tool is to provide first aid info or ensuring that people trained in CPR are made aware of a nearby medical emergency. A very powerful tool mixing crowdsourcing, geo-location tech and the good will of Samaritans!

Another key element of the emergency communications spectrum also presented itself as a prized candidate for " app-lification  " : public alerting and notification. Examples now abound but the power of reaching people where they are with the info that will be most relevant to them to warn them of impeding events/emergencies, is something undreamed of just a few years ago when TV and sirens were often the only options.

FEMA too realized the enormous potential of the app. It also realized that there are few tools more effective to harness the power of the crowd than a mobile app that can be used by citizens to help report damage. This helps authorities make better informed decisions on where to deploy key resources in the most efficient manner. In Europe, an app helps the agency that deals with earthquake conduct rapid damage assessments by allowing citizens to share pictures instantly. The USGS also leads the way in the use of crowdsourcing to track earthquakes and gauge the damage they cause.

Whether it's for empowering citizens or adding to the array of tools used by responders, apps are key components of the social convergence phenomenon. Fact is, apps can now be put together almost instantly when needed. And a new app is now being launched using crowdsourced financing and it looks promising and very helpful ... which is critical.

No matter what kind of platform or operating system, it's designed for, an emergency app has to do the job and be easy to use to be successful and useful. When done right, the results are fantastic and empowering ... for citizens, volunteers and professionals alike. For that reason, the mobile app sits at #9 in my list of top 10 social convergence tech.

The series so far:

#9: the mobile app (Dec. 5)
#10: Youtube (Dec. 3)

Series introduction (Nov. 29)

Jim Garrow's blog 
Kim Stephen's blog

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Top social convergence tech: at #10: Youtube

There is no doubt that we live in a very visual world. Picture and videos fly by us in an incessant flow of information. Emergency managers have caught on to the evocative power of video in particular.

There is no better illustration of the use of video in social convergence, than Youtube. That's why it's at the heart of this year's first entry in my holiday countdown. 

For many EM and first responder organizations, Youtube is primarily a very efficient emergency preparedness tool. Provided the content is up to par, chances are your audiences will view a cool video ... perhaps with a catchy tune. Of particular note is the now world-famous "dumb ways to die" video .... Hey! My kids learned the words at school ! 

Years after it's use as a preparedness channel was introduced, some are just now jumping on the visual social bandwagon. And that's a good thing as some famous TV personality used to say ...

Youtube is a powerful public education tool in its own right as my friend Kim Stephens so eloquently explained. Youtube's cousins, Vimeo or the newcomer Vine, are also used effectively.

But the power of Youtube extends beyond EP. It's a great professional learning tool as well for the EM community ... to learn the basics of Twitter for example, or what social convergence means for crisis comms and EM.

But for me, a real illustration of the power of Youtube is the ability to amplify your message during a crisis. The platform gives organizations the ability to build on the strengths of traditional media. Not everyone can make it to your news conference ... why not tape it yourself and put it online for all your audiences to see?

And why stop there? Youtube offers you the ability to become your own broadcaster so you don't have to rely on media. It's their new livestream capability:  
 To me, that's now a critical element of any crisis comms response plan: the ability to tell your own story. Whether on Youtube or Ustream or LiveStream ... nothing beats being your own director.

For all the reasons above, Youtube sits at #10 in my list of top social convergence technologies or platforms.

Series introduction

Jim Garrow's blog 
Kim Stephen's blog

Friday, November 29, 2013

A tradition returns! a new series of SMEM posts for the Holidays!

It's that time of the year again! My #smem compadres Jim Garrow (@jgarrow) , Kim Stephens (@kim26stephens +Kim Stephens ) and I will each come up with a series of blog posts looking back at the year (and beyond) in the field of social convergence for emergency management.

Jim's already introduced his series and announced some big news. I'm sure Kim will surpass us again with her insightful writing. As for myself, I'll take a look at the top 10 technologies (either software, hardware, mobile tech or social platforms) that make social convergence a reality in emergency management.

This will be a logical continuation of my previous two Holiday series:
Hope you stay tuned ! and I look forward to Jim and Kim's stuff!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Digital volunteerism and the on-scene reality

Empathy is a powerful human trait. It's displayed in great acuity during large-scale disasters such as what we're witnessing currently in the Philippines. The socially-convergent illustrations of this phenomenon (crowdsourcing and crisis mapping) are the subject of many interpretations, blog posts and articles. 

A whole series of digital initiatives have played a vital role in the response efforts so far. The response is phenomenal ... people are volunteering their time and skills to help in any way they can. But a real question needs to be asked? 
Do these efforts focusing on technology actually help those impacted by the disaster? 

It's important to ponder those questions. Actual concrete on-the-ground stuff has to happen ... starting with rebuilding some kind of infrastructure:
because if nobody has connectivity in the disaster zone, all the tweets in the world don't matter #oneteamonefight #smem

Just remember for all of the Philippines #SMEM and crisismap effort somebody has to rebuild networking for any of that to work

Someone who I respect greatly, Patrick Meier, believes digital volunteers ARE making a difference. To me, three key criteria need to be met for digital volunteer efforts to be more than just "feel good" endeavours:

  1. is the data produced supporting efficient decision-making and the strategic allocation of disaster relief and goods?
  2. are digital efforts helping the people on the ground? By helping them to find missing relatives or friends for example, or by providing amplification of emergency information (information as aid) ? 
  3. Is the information/data valid? A crucial point to convince authorities and emergency managers to get on the SMEM/SCEM wagon. Are crisis maps accurate?
Time will tell but I believe the vast coalition of digital volunteers and VTCs are playing an essential role. In a country like the Philippines, the crowdsourced expertise supplements national capabilities that may not be as resilient as one would hope. 

For that reason alone ... and for offering to everyone with a basic understanding of social networks and mapping, a way to channel their empathy, I say a big thank you!  All the leaders who have made digital volunteerism an inescapable reality in any disaster response deserve our admiration.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crisis communications and social convergence or what to do when your audiences know more than you.

Crisis Communications planning has changed. Gone are the long deliberations about strategies to adopt when an incident occurs.If you haven't got a system, a protocol in place before ... you're behind the 8 ball right away.

Social convergence has empowered our audiences: they now form their own collective (almost hive-like) alerting systems and their own news networks. In other words, when a crisis erupts or an incident occurs, they'll often have more information at their disposal then you will. So what to do? How to stay relevant? 

It begins and ends with listening: social media monitoring. From gauging the initial reactions and amplification of your alerting/warning messages to engaging in continued dialogue, having the ability to listen is now a critical element of any crisis comms response. Again, here are the five reasons why social listening is a must in an emergency or crisis: 

  1. validating how your messages are being received/acted upon
  2. detecting rumours that put public safety in jeopardy or may hinder your response 
  3. isolating and routing calls for help through appropriate channel (we know people will call for help on social networks ... what will you do? 
  4. identifying threats to your reputation that could lessen your ability to fulfill your mandate
  5. adding to your comprehension of the incident by enhancing your situational awareness (people will share videos, pictures, tweets, messages about what's going on.
So you need to know where your audiences are, what news they're getting ... where they share online. You'll identify key influencers, engage in conversations, be proactive in nipping rumours in the bud ... in other words (by using social networks and mobile devices) you'll be heard and you'll be relevant. 

Here's a good resource to ensure you might be as ready as you can be:

You have to remember that you're now in a competition to have your messages heard. The public's attention is being sought from all fields. Is your crisis or disaster relevant? To what audience? That's an issue well explained by my good friend James Garrow.

The legacy media fully understand that the landscape has changed, they are grasping with relevance and accuracy ... they're adapting to the new reality. Shouldn't you ? 


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The hidden kernel of truth in the social media universe ...

Another week ... another gun-toting maniac kills a dozen people in Washington, DC. Seems almost banal by now .... 

A constant, in this tragedy, and in any other modern day crisis, is the growing importance of social networks in how the story is told and unfolds. Crowdsourcing tools (and I include apps that let people listen in on police scanner) have changed what's news, how it's created and, too often, how it's wrong.

In the never-ending battle to be first, legacy media outlets are now in a headlong rush to push out facts ,,, info often obtained online ... and often issued by them without any verification or filter on whether or not the public interest in served in publishing every detail (think police scanners ...). So, we now have TV stations who quote police scanners

That rush to be first leads to mistakes and often painful corrections. For some digital news organizations, this correction process is a life-or-death issue in terms of their credibility.The shooting in Washington saw another litany of media mistakes ... a good list here.

The public will participate whether we like it or not ... the first instances, such as in the Boston Bombing might not be entirely positive. But the truth is that the crowd is smarter ...the collective intelligence unwavering and unstoppable ... and it learns! 

So, is public participation in reporting a crisis or providing damage assessments after a disaster to be discounted? Certainly not. In fact, FEMA's is maximizing the power of the crowd in the current floods in Colorado. Case in point is their new "Disaster Reporter" program.

Other organizations recognize the need to monitor social media to gather more info and get a better operational picture. Frankly, they either do this or run the risk of being marginalized.

I had the opportunity in the last few months to lead a project on behalf of Agincourt Strategies, and collaborating with two key experts (Gerald Baron and Bill Boyd), to provide a social media monitoring training program for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 

It's now an imperative for organizations in all fields, public or private, to have the ability to stay abreast, minute by minute, of any crisis. To do so, they must monitor social media and for the following five reasons: 

  1. emergency information/messaging validation: how are your audiences reacting to your messages? 
  2. identifying reputational threats? what's being said out there that could negatively impact public perception of your response/actions in a crisis ... and hamper your ability to fulfil your mandate? 
  3. Routing calls for help or assistance through the proper channels ...we know people will use social media to call for help in a disaster ... few, if any, public safety agencies are ready for this ...yet they must have a plan in place to do it ...
  4. detecting and countering rumours: a critical function of any social listening operation ... in fact, probably the most important aspect at the onset of any crisis.
  5. finally, gathering info (pictures, videos, tweets, posts) that provide you with a better idea of what's going on ... adding to your comprehension of an event.
This five-part rationale for social listening during a crisis serve everyone to some extent: a PR crisis, an emergency response, a public health risk .... It's essential because the world now moves at the speed of Twitter ... Sees the story unfold through Instagram or Youtube ... and provides ongoing comment on Reddit ...

Are you listening? 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Even the best sometimes mishandle a crisis: Major League Soccer and the YSA chant

Those who know me realize i'm a total football fanatic (read maniac). I"m a fierce supporter of the Montreal Impact, follow the English Premier League and currently coach two soccer teams.

Over the last year or so, I've come to particularly like watching Major League Soccer (MLS) games. They are usually entertaining even though they might not feature the same level of skills and tactical display found in big European leagues.

However, there is one area where the MLS is a trailblazer in my opinion and that's in online and social media engagement. The people at the league HQ are very adept at producing and promoting their online content. In a way, they don't have a choice since they're yet to secure a contract with a big time TV network to show the games. So social they went ... and it's working.

Every team and their fans have an enthusiastic social network presence. That's great since it's based on fan support and promotes engagement from players in their communities.

MLS has also used social network to explain some referee controversies ... where calls from ref and the league's disciplinary committee are dissected very effectively. A good way to avoid further issues/crises:

So, the MLS is usually quite adept at handling issues. But recently, one of its biggest teams (the New York Red Bull or NYRB), committed one of the cardinal sins of crisis communications: don't blow things out of proportion ... In other words, don't make a small problem worse.

For years now, MLS Commissioner Don Garber has worked hard to have fans across North America drop the YSA chant ( You Suck A-hole). It's part of the efforts to make MLS parks as family friendly as possible. But in the great scheme of things ... It's not a big issue. But yet, the NYRB's mishandling made it a bigger deal that it should be .... Judge for yourself here ... listen closely toward the end of the short video below: 

OK ... so not very classy and can be somewhat embarrassing for commercial purposes but there's much worse out there. That's why the NYRB's offer of bribes to supporters groups to stop singing the YSA chant is just a bit ill advised. And it wasn't particularly well received.

What's the crisis comms lesson here? Don't make the situation worse by overreacting ... Discretion IS (sometimes) the best part of valour. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lac Mégantic aftermath: anatomy of a major crisis comms fail: the MMA story

The images were some of the scariest possible ... right out of a Hollywood blockbuster, except that the outcome was the most tragic possible. Two dozens dead, scores missing and possibly "vaporized" in the inferno that followed the train derailment in the lakeside community of Lac Mégantic in Québec.

The huge conflagration followed the derailment of a train carrying crude oil (the same train had previously gone through the Greater Toronto Area ...). A runaway train, that's the stuff of movies ... right? Well, it turns out it happens more often than you think. And it now looks as if the railroad which operated the train, the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic, owned by a US company called Rail World, has a dismal safety record

So, you'd think that they have a pretty solid crisis communications plan in place for such incidents? ... Uhm .... maybe not. 

My friend and crisis communications expert, Melissa Agnes, who lives in Montreal, already wrote a pretty scathing piece on this ... but I can't resist. After a few days of dithering, sordid comments and complete confusion, MMA should stand for Middling, Muddled and Awkward ... 

Middling: a more mediocre response is hard to find in the annals of similar incidents:
  • a response that's late ... than ignores the reality of the primary audience (a news release in English ... followed by a farcical translation using an online tool = disrespect for the French-speaking citizens of Lac Mégantic.
  • Here's an excerpt from a news story about the simmering anger of residents: "Complaints about the company have ranged from lack of visibility, to longer-term concerns about safety, to the fact that a press release written in French appeared sloppily translated and loaded with errors."
  • Another excerpt from an online story highlighting the fact that after days of silence, the company's decision to speak out came with its own disaster: "But those are not their biggest blunders. The real problems came when senior company officials decided to open their mouths and, in one case, make a “joke”."
Muddled: confusion, obfuscation and evasion (trying to escape the horde of reporters at the airport after waiting 4 days to show your face ???)
  • various explanations/excuses about whether or not safety procedures (brakes/crew) were followed
  • blaming first responders (firefighters for responding to a train engine earlier that fateful evening)
  • Differing outlook on what happens next.
Awkward: doing a news conference in the middle of the street of the town your company has just destroyed ... unscripted and un-moderated = a bad idea: 

For all his troubles, Ed Burkhardt, the Chair of Rail World got some "advice" from the Premier of Québec, Pauline Marois:

So, what should have taken place? There is no more poignant reminder to any organization to have a crisis communications plan in place to support any business continuity or emergency management program. A plan adapted to risks, audiences and outreach on social networks.

For a good crisis comms template, you can refer to the work my colleague Barry Radford and I did for PTSC-Online.  

Those of you who read this blog, are aware of my admiration for Dr. Covello and his crisis mapping technique (link to full video here and supporting handbook). So i'll adopt one of his templates to share my idea of what should have happened and highlight what we saw.

The CCO template: Compassion, Competence, Optimism 

Compassion: how hard is it to say (despite lawyers arguing against it ...) it's our train, it's our responsibility ...we're deeply sorry ... we'll do all we can to support the families, the town and its people ...? What we got from MMA/Rail World: absence in the critical first few hours, an automated news release and a bad linguistic disconnect with those impacted ...  

Competence: we should have heard: we're doing our own investigation, to make sure this doesn't happen again. We're doing all we can to help the people of Lac Mégantic .... What we got from MMA/Rail World: confusion, conflicting comments on the cause, lack of communications planning, poor execution, ad lib interviews from the top guy ... 

Optimism: He should have said: we'll work with the town ... grieve with them and them help them rebuild .... What we got from MMA/Rail World: we blame the local firefighters in a nearby town, our own guy is to blame/we'll can him ... hard to believe someone who seems to shirk responsibility and blames first responders and appears ready to throw his own people to the wolves ...

Now, who's gonna tell the boss he screwed up?