Social media and crisis communication–emerging trend

February 11, 2008

I’ve noticed some news stories lately about organizations using blog sites as crisis communications tools as well as other social media tools such as wikis. This is all very interesting and those who happen to be in London and interested in learning more should take advantage of this training session by Phillipe Borremans via Melcrum.

I learned about it via Chuck Wolf of Media Consultants who forwarded this link to conversationblog from Borremans, and this post has some links to examples of using social media tools.

Of course, from my perspective the use of social media tools for crisis communications was begun in 1999 with the development of PIER, the system I created and the company for which I serve as CEO. In many ways, this technology could be viewed as one of the earliest, if not the earliest 2.0 social media technologies. The very reason that Borremans’ recommends blogs (easy posting by non technical communications people) is one of the reasons why so many use PIER not just for crises, but for day to day communication. One of the really cool things about blogs and other social media tools is the high level of interaction–but PIER was created with the idea of push-pull-interactive communication all built into one platform, Using Surveys (quick easy survey forms), adding these to all posts, is one way of increasing the interactivity. The Inquiry Management function was designed way back then as a way of coordinating response to multiple comments and questions when a communicator or small team can be quickly overwhelmed–something blog sites which are designed for the lone blogger to manage–simply can’t do.

While we might reasonably make a claim to have pre-dated and pre-envisioned social media for crisis communications, nevertheless there is much we can and are learning from how these tools work. And what makes them such effective communication applications. I won’t get into announcing vapor ware here but stay tuned. If social media tools and their accessibility helps communicators understand both what is needed in today’s urgent communication world and how it can be done, then that is a great thing–including those of us who have been trying to carry that message for a long time.

2 Responses to “Social media and crisis communication–emerging trend”

  1. Hi Gerald,

    When I was a fresh PR account executive at Porter Novelli, a lot of years ago, I learned about the PIER system by doing research on the use of “the internet” in crisis situations…. I was amazed by the system at the time and read all I could about your experience with crisis communications/management… It is amazing that you would link to one of my blog posts and training sessions now… Full circle I guess… Thanks for your inspiration when I was learning the craft !

  2. gbaron Says:

    Phil, I appreciate hearing from you. One of the great things about social media is you have more of the opportunity to see what is happening and who is listening and connecting. Thanks for letting me know and the best to you in your work.

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