Social Media as a Tool in Crisis Communication by David J Mistick CPM, CBRMCrisis communication is an essential part of any corporate or institutional communication plan. Today social media plays in increasingly important part of it. Property owners and managers must be cognizant of this fact, and embrace its utility as a tool in the organization’s overall enterprise risk management program. The speed and ease of use take the value of social media beyond being a headline banner. This methodology requests assistance, identifies access, ties to mapping resources, provides safety check-‐ins, and provides a vehicle for relief and fundraising. For business organizations and institutions it is an important component of business resilience communication. It moves these groups beyond call trees, 800 numbers, and chat boards. Directing and maintaining social media for these organizations has now become an identifiable responsibility in the overall disaster or business resilience program. The value of social media as a disaster tool is evidenced in recent research compiled by Best Communication Company, LTD, a provider of social media packages in Japan. This research was performed pre-‐and post-‐the March 11, 2011 earthquake. The study reports that after the earthquake the use of traditional communication – i.e. telephones and e-‐mail – increased, but not at the rate of social media. This research identifies and uptick of 66-‐70% following the earthquake. This usage includes both public media as well as internal corporate or organizational social tools. Data collected confirms that 70% of those surveyed used Twitter, 37% used Facebook, 16% You Tube, 16% intranet, and 12% MIXI (a Japanese social network.) In our consulting practice we have long counseled clients of the importance of having a single spokesperson to address the news media to assure a single cohesive message to be delivered to the public, clients, customers, suppliers and employees. Today we add managing social media to the responsibilities to that spokesperson or their primary assistant. Utilizing social media effectively requires these groups to develop strategies that put it into play all along the disaster continuum – pre-‐disaster, during the event, and post-‐disaster, communicating both externally and internally. Corporately, social media managers must also be alert to external reports about their businesses. As we have seen in major disasters for decades, competitors will use misinformation to damage or re-‐direct the market share of companies in disaster impact zones. Now more than ever, scouring the Internet for damaging or misleading information is an essential part of any company’s resilience plan. Prompt, thoughtful response to un-‐factual posts about your business by others is required to maintain business stability. Social media should be incorporated into an organization’s overall business continuity strategy. As such it should be exercised like any part of the BCP. During
Social Media as a Tool in Crisis Communication You have only to look at certain social media miscues to see how mistakes have had significant negative impacts on various corporations on market share, stock prices, and brand image. A 2011 survey by Symantec found the top three social media incidents the typical enterprise experienced were employees sharing too much information in public form, the loss or exposure of confidential information, and increased exposure to litigation. In a disaster these may be obfuscated by risk of injury and death. Research conducted by the University of Western Sydney after the Queensland floods concluded: “social media can act as amplifiers of affected information and also help people to not feel alone.” The reports presents the case that social media is highly important in managing rumors and sensationalized media reporting. “Overwhelmingly people reported feeling a sense of connectedness and usefulness, felt supported by others and felt encouraged.” Property owners and managers need to harness and manage the power of social media. By: David Mistick CPM, CBRM Circumspex LLC
Social Media as a Tool in Crisis Communication [Potential Side Bar} Social Media Tips • Create and maintain key contacts, both internally and externally • When posting, be clear as to whether this information is validated by you internally or ban an external source • Be aware of the timeliness of your posts. Critical information may need to appear more than a single time • Maintain close administrative control over the official “voice” or the organization. In planning make certain employees understand they cannot speak for the company. • Consider the fact that the social media desk may need to be operated 24/7.