Crisis Communications: There’s an App for That

Is there a social media component to your organization’s crisis communication or issues management protocol?

There should be. The revolutions occurring across northern Africa and the Middle East are only the latest indication of the power of social networks to spread information quickly and broadly. A recent article in World Politics Review illustrates how the power of Facebook and Twitter made what used to be a staple of modern revolutions – storming and taking over the physical headquarters of state-run broadcasting networks – unnecessary.

You don’t need a revolution for the power of these tools to be useful. After the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007, campuses began installing systems to use text messaging and social media as emergency alert networks. The American Red Cross has conducted a survey with results that indicate many Americans would turn almost immediately to social media to get information in crisis situations. There’s a great dialog about this topic currently taking place on govloop.

If you had a crisis situation in your organization that required an “all hands on deck” response – especially after hours – how would you get the word out to key employees? How would you quickly reach out to customers, clients, suppliers and other stakeholders with messages of reassurance?

Do you have a crisis protocol handbook sitting somewhere on a shelf, collecting dust, with a “phone tree” component based on a list of landline phone numbers that haven’t been verified or updated in years? It’s time to dust that puppy off and start over with a plan that reflects the world today.

— John Martellaro, TCG Senior Account Manager

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