Evaluating And Using New Media Technologies


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  • For those who don’t know about the NSW Rural Fire Service, we are the world’s largest volunteer firefighting agency. We have 70000 members, in 2500 brigades and we provide emergency services to 95% of New South Wales. We are in the business of crisis communication. For the purpose of this presentation, I’d like to examine our organisation from a social media perspective and then look at social media trends more broadly and some of the issues affecting crisis communicators. More than 3000 NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers were deployed to Victoria in the month following Black Saturday, and many others who wanted to go, but could not, reached out with fundraising efforts for those affected by the fires. BLACK SATURDAY STATS: Saturday 7 February 2009 during extreme bushfire-weather conditions 173 people died as a result of the fires 414 were injured The fires destroyed over 2,029 houses, 3,500+ structures in total
  • In terms of technology we manage 3 disparate website We are currenlty using video streaming and podcasting for delivery of internal messaging We have a recruitment campaign site called jointherfs.nsw.gov.au We are making inroads into social media sites like Linkedin, Facebook and YouTube We are implementing technologes that will allow Email and SMS Capability And we are using RSS feeds to distribute fire updates and other incident information We provide the platforms, services and expertise to enable our people to communicate via the web.
  • If you’ve visited our RFS website then you will have noticed that we display fire update messages on our website. Today I’m going to share with you how we built an integrated platform to deliver these messages to multiple platforms and various external services, through one system. But first let’s take a look at the case for getting involved in New Media
  • In 2005, we had four sources of truth. Our public website (naturally) go the lion’s share of attention when there was a fire. Other sites were updated when resourcing was available. The result was a disparate and often conflicting set of information on our intranet and volunteer portal. We needed a solution that made the process of updating all these services easier.
  • Achives very important Ability to answer coroner or investigation questions about who knew what when.
  • How it appears on the public website
  • How it appears on MyRFS
  • Everyone was on message, and got the message at the same time. We improved the speed of the message by 75%. We were able to deliver more tailored messages to our internal audiences And auditable and recorded for investigation
  • I remember sitting in a hotel room in Canberra the night of the 7 th Feburary. I had eaten dinner and was starting to hear the reports of houses lost. As the hours went on, I was listening to the radio and watching what was happening on the social media networks. What became apparent is that there really wasn’t any social media coverage to speak of, from official sources, but there was a wide amount of conversation on sites like Twitter about the fire and actual locations. Bendigo was a notable example, where I was hearing people from one end of town saying buildings were lost, and on the other end of town saying they couldn’t even see smoke. As the enormity of this event unfolded, it became clear that the social networks were covering the gaps, where traditional media sources were not, and they were more efficient at delivering the message than some traditional media sources. In that moment, my previously held belief of ‘go to the source of truth’ was fast being superceded by the critical need for message reach. My paradigms needed to shift in order to deal with this new technology. We needed to be placing our messages where our audience would be, in as many places we could find. We had a lot of work to do quickly, to create our official channels.
  • Asst. Commissioner, and Director of Operations Rob Rogers. Media team Some of our districts and zones As well as our official feeds We have a number of non-official and official feeds at the RFS. It’s important to note there are official feeds that come from the source of truth.
  • TIER 1 messaging – reserved for our public safety warnings TIER 2 – a way for individual users to alert people, and point to tier 1 TIER 3 – general messaging, normally outside of fire season We have clearly established the source of truth within our organisation
  • Outside, when we release our feeds we have clear guidelines for use We also stipulate how frequently the feeds should be updated And we work to establish relationships with those people using our feeds, and include them in design where possible (e.g. Google and some of our more technically minded volunteers were involved in our most recent GeoRSS feed for incident mapping)
  • Here’s an example of our current incidents page with Google map We plot the incidents on this map. The API to run this map was donated by Google.
  • Detail screen, you’ll note it also includes fire update summary, with a click through to the source of truth.
  • So where does it all end? Well next year we’re delivering the first stage of the process of building all our websites on a single platform, further improving the data movement between the systems.
  • So let’s take a look at new media more broadly. 2272 average SMS 217541 record SMS. March 09. Brady James 2020 primary device for accessing the internet.
  • The relative inexpensive nature of the equipment reuqired to become a citizen journalist, or particiapte in social and new media means that the traditional barriers have been removed. The mainstream adoption of some types of new media for repurposed or timeshifted broadcast content is bringing wide awareness of blogging, podcasting, and sites like youtube. Flow on effect to other producers.
  • Citizen journalists at a local film festival interviewing a director for a podcast.
  • iPhone Applications bring web functionality to the phone, in an easy to use way. Social media was harnessed heavily by Obama during the 2008 presidential race. In Feburary 2008, John McCain raised $11M for his US Presidential bid from fundraisers. Barack Obama attended no campaign fundraisers. Instead he focused his attention on leveraging social media and raised $55M for his campaign over the same period.
  • Ability for people like you and me to lend to entrepreneurs in small amounts. Lenders band together to lend $25 each, which is repaid over the term of the loan without interest. Lenders can then withdraw or relend the money.
  • Abusive marriage Needed $5K to setup house Before the chip in had even ended, they had read laurel’s story and donated 318% of that amount more than $15K. Power of leveraging your social networks.
  • Social media sites can even help you find your next role.
  • Have you ever completed a GetUp survey. One of the most prominent was the Free the Internet campaign. Insightful and passionate campaigns funded by the community, raises awareness on key political issues and mobilises people to effect change.
  • President Obama did a wonderful job of mobilising first time voters through websites, youtube, socail media sites like facebook and myspace and iphone applications. The results ere stunning: The second largest youth voter turn out in history. “ Young people absolutely made the difference in this election,” said Erika Johansson, a project coordinator for Declare Yourself. “Without them, he would have lost the election.” Obama won the age group of 18- to 29-year-olds, in addition to the 30–44 and 45–59 brackets. http://www.thetartan.org/2008/11/10/news/elections
  • Here’s just a handful of new media sites and services that you may have noticed, and perhaps should be investigating if you are wanting to look seriously at new media technologies or social media community engagement.
  • Conversations are not one-way!
  • Everyone’s new media journey will be different. Normally be a mix of traiditonal and new strategies. Have clear and measurable objectives – be able to show the benefits Work in small steps until you gain your confidence.
  • Evaluating And Using New Media Technologies

    1. 2. Evaluating and Using New Media Technologies James Williams Manager, Online Communications NSW Rural Fire Service
    2. 3. NSWRFS Backburning in Victoria: Alastair Harding: Flickr.com
    3. 4. Platforms and Services <ul><li>3 websites </li></ul><ul><li>Podcasting and video streaming </li></ul><ul><li>Campaign sites </li></ul><ul><li>Social outreach </li></ul><ul><li>Email/SMS </li></ul><ul><li>RSS Feeds </li></ul><ul><li>GeoRSS Feeds </li></ul><ul><li>Dynamic Maps </li></ul><ul><li>Deliver a single source of online truth for emergency information Manage and advise in the online space </li></ul><ul><li>Scanning online services for a ‘health pulse’ </li></ul>
    4. 6. Website Usage
    5. 7. RFS safety messages <ul><li>Requires precision </li></ul><ul><li>Needs to be delivered in a timely way </li></ul><ul><li>Should remain calm </li></ul><ul><li>Is delivered under pressure </li></ul><ul><li>Is open to legal scrutiny </li></ul><ul><li>Requires maximum reach </li></ul><ul><li>Lives depend on it </li></ul>
    6. 9. Our challenge <ul><li>Design a single source of truth for community information. The ability to increase the reach of our messaging beyond our public websites. </li></ul><ul><li>Improve the speed and accuracy of messages we deliver. </li></ul>
    7. 10. AFTER
    8. 14. What were the results? <ul><li>100% consistent messaging to all key stakeholder groups </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wider Community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Staff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Volunteers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Improved speed to consumer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduced input requirements by 75% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Linkages to internal systems making creation easier </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Segmented information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Community, Volunteers and Staff </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Audit capabilities </li></ul>
    9. 15. What were the results? <ul><li>Dramatically increased message reach to Twitter, and other social networking sites. </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced risks associated with screen-scraping, by providing accurate information </li></ul>
    10. 16. What the Victorian Fires taught us <ul><li>Be flexible with your strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Communication voids will be filled </li></ul><ul><li>Message Reach is critical </li></ul><ul><li>Show people where the incident is </li></ul><ul><li>Build Official channels before you need them </li></ul>
    11. 17. Twitter
    12. 18. Establishing internal guidelines <ul><li>We have a number of non-official social media channels with guidelines. </li></ul><ul><li>We have an internal messaging hierarchy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>TIER 1 – Public Safety Warnings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>From the source of truth </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>TIER 2 – Community Alert </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Points to the source of truth </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>TIER 3 – General Messaging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>General marketing communication </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Public safety warnings should only come from a Tier 1 Source. </li></ul>
    13. 19. Third party guidelines <ul><li>Create clear guidelines for use </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Logo use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How data must be displayed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disclaimers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Point to source of truth </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Set a frequency for update </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Balance public need vs. server load </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Establish relationships with external stakeholders who use or want your data </li></ul><ul><li>Include stakeholders in building data feeds where appropriate. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Eg. Google, interested parties, those who had developed screen scraping apps. </li></ul></ul>
    14. 22. Heading towards 2010 <ul><li>2010 Single Web Platform </li></ul><ul><li>2009 GeoRSS Feeds and Google Maps </li></ul><ul><li>2008 Increasing Social Media reach through RSS </li></ul><ul><li>2007 Integrated Fire Updates </li></ul><ul><li>2005/2006 Volunteer Portal </li></ul>
    15. 23. Convergence 217,541 – Brady James (record) Mar 09 2272 – Average SMS per month
    16. 24. News Breaks on Twitter
    17. 25. 4 in 10 own an iPod or MP3 player
    18. 26. Podcast popularity increasing
    19. 27. Low barriers to entry
    20. 29. New Media <ul><li>Wikipedia contains more than 13 million articles in 200 languages </li></ul><ul><li>Youtube 10% of all internet traffic </li></ul><ul><li>Five of the top 10 websites are social </li></ul><ul><li>More than 100 Million blogs exist </li></ul><ul><li>120,000 new blogs launched every day </li></ul><ul><li>1.5 million posts per day </li></ul>Do you know what is being said about your organisation?
    21. 30. Integrated iPhone Applications
    22. 31. Social Lending
    23. 32. Social Fundraising Source: LaurelPapworth.com
    24. 33. Social Networking
    25. 34. Social Activism <ul><li>Australia’s largest independent political movement </li></ul><ul><li>Enabled by social media </li></ul><ul><li>Activities funded by community </li></ul><ul><li>Passionate, fun, innovative, creative, compelling and insightful </li></ul>
    26. 35. Video Sharing Sites
    27. 36. Live Video from your Mobile
    28. 37. For Crisis Communicators <ul><li>It’s an opportunity to build strong relationships before the storm hits </li></ul><ul><li>Provides an opportunity to deliver messaging direct to your online publics </li></ul><ul><li>Building the relationship means having a conversation in the good times and the bad </li></ul><ul><li>This significant investment, provides a direct communication channel independent of media filters. </li></ul>
    29. 38. Where to start…
    30. 39. When you’re out there… <ul><li>Listen before speaking </li></ul><ul><li>Enable people to connect with you </li></ul><ul><li>Respond appropriately </li></ul><ul><li>Be authentic and accurate </li></ul><ul><li>Conversations are not one-way! </li></ul>
    31. 40. Build New Media into your strategy <ul><li>The new media journey is going to be different for everyone </li></ul><ul><li>Often be used in a mix of new and traditional strategies. </li></ul><ul><li>Have clear objectives that are measurable </li></ul><ul><li>Work in small steps until you gain your confidence </li></ul>
    32. 41. Key learnings for us <ul><li>We positioned ourselves as practitioners and advisors to the organisation </li></ul><ul><li>We used pain-points to focus executives on possible online scenarios </li></ul><ul><li>We moved forward in a sustainable way </li></ul>
    33. 42. Connect <ul><li>Email: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>LinkedIn: </li></ul><ul><li>http://linkedin.com/in/jameswilliamsaus </li></ul><ul><li>Website: </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.james-williams.com </li></ul>