Archive for April 6th, 2009

Crisis Communication in the Age of Twitter

April 6, 2009

Just wanted to draw your attention to an article by Pat Philbin and myself in the April 2009 edition of PR Tactics newspaper.

There is very strong interest mong many in crisis communications and public relations in general on the topic of social media. At the recent Ragan/PRSA conference on social media I talked about its impact on crisis communication and my message was it changes everything and it changes nothing. By that I mean that social media is having profound impacts on the speed of communication and how people interact with each other. This means that crisis vulnerability increases (because of the easy viral nature of much of it and the ease with which those unhappy with you can create a furor). These same tools used to attack are also effective when used to defend.

But ultimately, social media changes nothing. When you look at what your job as a communicator is. the fundamentals don’t really change. Companies and organizations have to behave properly and act appropriately in a crisis. This is what matters to people. It seems to always come down to two fundamental things: relationships and character. This was true when we were hunkered down around a campfire, and it still is true. Character is shown in action, not words. But words are critically important in communicating about that action. And today, those words must be delivered with incredible speed, focused on direct, interactive communications with those who matter most, and with a degree of transparency that may be unprecedented in our history.