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 ?