MSF in social media during the Haiti emergency


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How MSF work with social media and the huge impact it had on our communication during the Haiti emergency.

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  • Web manager in Swedish section of MSF since 1, 5 years. But I’ve worked with online communications the last four years. Today I will tell you how we work with social media Huge impact it has on our communication.
  • Three words about MSF. Two pillars – saving lives and bearing witness to provoque change Communication is part of our mandate, and social media is one important way of doing it. 20+ web people – each section has one person like me – who deals with webrelated communication and social media International working group, consisting of 5 people of those 19 – who works on elaborating strategies and guidelines for the whole movement. Examples today come mostly from frontline sections.
  • I’ve chosen to talk about our work in social media through a specific case – the haiti earthquake. The Haiti crisis was the first catastrophe where social media played a such important role in MSF, and other organization’s, communication. For the first time we could fully use our social media channels which helped us reach our communication goals such as… - bring the field closer – and create great engagement from people who could experience the suffering of the haitian population to a greater extent. - attract a lot of media attention – lots of journalist out there and we saw many exemples of cross fertilization between social and traditional media. - last but not least, transparency and action communicated in these channels made fundraising skyrocket – social media helped doing social good. But let’s go back to the beginning….
  • Background – MSF working in Pap since 1991- medical structures collapsed staff and patients wounded Difficult to know the extent Phone lines were down but somehow internet connection still worked The humanitarian needs in Haiti were enormous, and MSF emergency response rapidly grew to one of our biggest medical humanitarian interventions of all time. This was our very first tweet from the earthquake. Many more were to come and over the following weeks – social media was to play a significant role in our communication. All over the world MSF communication teams used Facebook, blogs and Twitter to spread information about what had happen. 24 h emergency desk – information updated very often.
  • - Personal story – swedish fieldworker who we got contact with through FB. This is the Result – Now I’ll try to tell you how we did it Let’s start with a concrete example. If pictures speak 1000 words – videos speak more. Three days after the first shock, anaesthologist Henrik arrived in Pap. This is what he saw.
  • This video was posted on YouTube and on Facebook and rapidly shared by both media and users. (show paperclippings)
  • This video was extremely valuable content for pushing in social media. It is real, direct and transparent. It showed MSF was on the ground, what we did and that needs were enormous. Could you think of any better way of showing donors and other stakeholders our actual medical action? By publishing content like this  we work towards one of our communication goals  visibility. This video was viewed thousands of times and the Dr also became one of our major spokes persons. Show – Press clipping – I think you all understand how much this count in PR value.
  • Visibility is both about branding, showing we are on the ground, but also to ensure transparency and accountability towards our donors and beneficiaries. Blogs is a great way of doing this…
  • … and many were also pitched externally.
  • A good story are easy to pitch and we had a lot of good stories.
  • Swedish psychologist – this blog got in on week as many visitors as our webpage has in a month…
  • … and was pitched to one of sweden’s leading digital news paper.
  • We also organised live chats direct from PAP. What could be more ensuring for people than to ask a person on the ground what the situation is like? We always strive to let the people on the ground be spokes persons – we try to avoid having high level profiles comment on issues where our fieldworkers know much more. We put a lot of trust in people working for us – and so do the public, This is Sweden’s biggest digital newspaper – reaching 5 million unique visitors a week
  • Transparency + showing what we were doing on the ground  increased fundraising. Appeals were shared 100 000 times on both Facebook and Twitter.
  • MSF US and Canada also organised press conferences and broadcasted on YouTube. This is another exemple of one way to increase traditional media coverage by using social media. 26 000 views in just a couple of days.
  • We used social media to correct misinformation and sharing valuable information. One should be careful using social media only for self-promotion, It is against the whole concept of social media as a tool for exchange and sharing. Don’t be afraid of citing others – it can make you more credible and more interesting, like a friend who does not only talk about herself, but that shares other good information to you.
  • Twitter also became a direct channel for journalists who had questions about our work or the situation in Haiti. This was especially true in North America. Even though we have a quite strong voice and big audiences, our reach could never compete with that of CNN or BBC. Many major news media (CNN, NY times etc) now has social media editors who browse the social media channels hunting good news.
  • And when that relation/dialogue was established – we experienced a whole new era of press relations. This kind of messages is supporting another of our communication goals, which is to communicate the role and the presence of MSF in areas where we work. We call this acceptance.
  • Acceptance is also about communicating our role to the people we help. And with Haiti, people in headquarters like me, were for the first time approached directly by people in need via channels like twitter and facebook. This was something completely new, and we dealt with it as we could, ie just mention the services we had on the ground. One of the aspects we need to discuss on international level so that we can be better prepared next time something happens.
  • After visibility and acceptance, our third communication goal is leverage. With this we mean to influence the right people to overcome obstacles in order to improve our field mission. This is often made by quite low key advocacy meetings. But during Haiti social media actually helped cargo planes carrying lifesaving medical material land in PaP. Background – Airport controlled by US army  bottle neck  planes rerouted to DR  important delay  people were dying. But we started with an ordinary press release.
  • American News Journalists (news anchor at NBC) @AnnCurry saw it and tweeted about it. She has 1,003,394 followers. She saw our posting about about the planes. She tweeted it about it. Then Jeff Pulver, social media guy, Dmed her that tha Air Force had its own account. The back and forth began.
  • Quite a few had been tweeting about it – and us airforce replied to all of them.
  • Which made a news story as well.
  • To put a bit of context around all the Twitter hype, our dir com in Canada responded. There was plenty going on offline: she called her contacts in the Pentagon, she spoke to Ban Ki Moon, she spoke to John Holmes from OCHA. It sparked a chain reaction. Our NYC office received calls from various US government agencies. Admiral Mullins, the Director of US-AID, the Pentagon, etc. The combination of our communication Triggered a response from the hq of US Airforce. It is difficult to say exactly what role Twitter played in this - but the collective efforts certainly helped making the plane to land. The story also tells us how important it is to make connection with the very influencal people in social media – who can help your messages coming across. Without Ann Currys RT it had without doubt been more difficult to reach the same result.
  • Our sites are the mother of all information . As a result, traffic increased by 3000% in January for most sections. This is pretty much the scenario of all MSF websites during the second week of January. The example above comes from MSF UK
  • Web and social was a frank success for us to reach our communication goals during the Haiti earthquake and the following weeks.
  • Blanket coverage Rapid increase in social media activity - re-tweeting, blog linking, RSS feeds, Facebook shares, etc. Cross fertilization of traditional media and social media Conscious staffing Having communications personnel on the ground asap (to be an eye witness-blogger) Reactive/proactive balance Update information as rapidly as possible Encourage viral messaging Thank supporters directly through social networks Rapid reaction to misinformation (e.g. myths about dead bodies spreading disease, etc.) Tactics: Experimental, rapid, flexible Learning by doing/ learning from others - emulating best practice initiatives within the MSF Movement Online strategy - Social media outlets activated – websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, BoingBoing Embrace blogs, Facebook and Twitter as mainstream methods of communicating to donors and supporters
  • COMMUNICATION CHALLENGES Freedom vs. Control Lack of control in messaging direction – snowball effect Communicate the facts and manage the myths Balance the need to stay neutral while exerting pressure to get people and equipment into Haiti amongst heated diplomatic relations with the Haitian authorities and the US military. Unprecedented scale Disaster on an unprecedented scale amplified by media and NGO frenzy Field staff overwhelmed, all medical structures collapsed: So their priority was not communications Manage the website traffic demand – 2,800% higher than usual Here comes some concrete exemples.
  • How to respond to pleas... Sometimes if felt like the info was careening around in ways that were not especially helpful. We received specific pleas that required tactful responses.
  • One story in particular sparked a great many offers of specific help (flights, cars) that, frankly, overwhelmed us and proved to be a distraction. A baby that needed specialist care that neither MSF or any other organization on the ground could help her with at that point.
  • Priority not given to communications – and even though we had staff on the ground they had problems dealing with very intrusive media crews instead of giving updates to the organization.
  • MSF in social media during the Haiti emergency

    1. 1. Social media – a possibility to do global communication on a small budget How Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) use social media to reach communication goals. Lina Eidmark / Web manager @ MSF Sweden Special thanks to Avril Benoit (MSF Canada), Nina Privatera (MSF international) and Artur Leczycki (Publik PR)
    2. 2. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without borders is an international, medical humanitarian organization. We save lives where needs are the greatest.
    3. 3. <ul><li>The Haiti case </li></ul><ul><li>How social media </li></ul><ul><li>changed the human perception from up close and far away </li></ul><ul><li>played a significant role in news reporting </li></ul><ul><li>helped doing social good </li></ul>Social media & Haiti
    4. 4. January 12, 2010 4.53 p.m A catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake hits Haiti. The epicentre was approx. 25 km west of the capital Port-au-Prince. It was rapidly announced as one of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. The Haiti earthquake
    5. 5. <ul><li>In just three weeks… </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook fan base grew with 400 %  to almost 620 000 people today </li></ul><ul><li>Fundraising appeals were shared hundred and thousands of times </li></ul><ul><li>Number of Twitter followers grew with 500 % and Twitter also became a channel for communicating with key actors/influencers to overcome obstacles. </li></ul><ul><li>Hundred and thousands of people read our fieldworkers’ blogs – some of them were also published in external media (BBC / CNN / /…) </li></ul><ul><li>Since phones were down in Haiti – social media also became a tool to keep in touch with people on the ground , both MSF staff and, to a less extent, people in need. </li></ul>Results
    6. 6. Reaching goals : Visibility
    7. 7. ” These 8 min gave a better understanding of the situation than 100 news reports. I am deeply touched. How can I best contribute to your work?” Reaching goals: Visibility
    8. 8. Reaching goals: Visibility
    9. 9. Reaching goals: Visibility
    10. 10. Reaching goals: Visibility
    11. 11. Reaching goals: Visibility
    12. 12. Reaching goals: Visibility
    13. 13. Reaching goals: Visibility
    14. 14. Reaching goals: Visibility
    15. 15. Reaching goals : Visibility
    16. 16. Reaching goals : Visibility
    17. 17. MSF & social media | May 2010 Reaching goals : Visibility
    18. 18. Reaching goals : Visibility
    19. 19. VRWCTexan @ MSF_canada RT @lightxxx - We have a lady dying of rabies we need Rabies antitoxin asap // at Petionville Golf Course Field Hospital VRWCTexan @ MSF_canada RT @lightxxx We have a lady dying of rabies we need Rabies antitoxin asap #Haiti rqskye @ msf_canada RT @lightxxx-We have a lady dying of rabies we need Rabies antitoxin asap rqskye @ msf_canada RT @ShaunKing-NYT: 10 kids have died waiting 2 B &quot;cleared&quot; 4 flights. Doctors now afraid of being arrested Reaching goals : Acceptance
    20. 20. Reaching goals : Acceptance
    21. 21. Reaching goals : Leverage
    22. 22. Reaching goals : Leverage
    23. 23. Reaching goals : Leverage
    24. 24. Reaching goals : Leverage
    25. 25. Reaching goals : Leverage
    26. 26. Reaching goals : Leverage
    27. 27. Reaching goals : Leverage
    28. 28. Reaching goals : Leverage
    29. 29. Reaching goals : Leverage
    30. 30. Goals : Leverage
    31. 31. Reaching goals : Visibility
    32. 32. Reaching goals : Visibility
    33. 33. <ul><li>How could we do all this? </li></ul><ul><li>Massive need for information – we were one of quite few actors on the ground when the earthquake struck </li></ul><ul><li>Overwhelming media coverage – cross fertilization </li></ul><ul><li>Having communications staff on the ground asap - eyewitnesses </li></ul><ul><li>Creating link love – sharing and retweeting – best practices </li></ul><ul><li>Reactive/proactive balance – update information rapidly – monitor and correct </li></ul><ul><li>But above all… we were prepared! </li></ul><ul><li>Most offices have well entertained social media channels </li></ul><ul><li>” Old” channels are more credible and better indexed by search engines </li></ul><ul><li>Existing strategies and guidelines, but with room for flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>Trained staff in offices and conscious staff on the ground </li></ul>Tactics
    34. 34. <ul><li>Yet…we faced some real challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of control in messaging  snowball effect  not enough resources to monitor and manage the myths </li></ul><ul><li>Too much information circulating – need to verify sources  time demanding </li></ul><ul><li>Duplicating work load </li></ul><ul><li>Rebalancing HQ staff resources between web and social media </li></ul>Challenges
    35. 35. - How to respond to desperate calls for help? Challenges
    36. 36. One story in particular sparked a great many offers of specific help (flights, cars) that, frankly, overwhelmed us and proved to be a distraction. <ul><li>Reverse leverage  overwhelming response to some of our stories </li></ul>Challenges
    37. 37. Weddressproject Why is @ MSF_CANADA saying that the Ministry of Health is going to see #BABYLANDINA today, but we are still trying to get them to go there? about 19 hours ago from web Weddressproject @ MSF_CANADA You stated earlier that the Ministry of Health was going to see #BABYLANDINA. When is that goig to happen? about 20 hours ago from web MelyMello The life and/or death of a child should not be fodder for political postering. #SaveLandina @UN @MSF_US @MSF_canada 4:11 PM Feb 7th from web VRWCTexan @ MSF_canada RT @ShaunKing Need current contact inform & GPS coordinates for baby & docs MSF: we are ready to move 8:32 PM Feb 6th from web in reply to MSF_canada Challenges
    38. 38. <ul><li>Overwhelming interest – difficult to give priority to communications </li></ul>Challenges
    39. 39. Challenges
    40. 40. <ul><li>So how can we deal with that next time? </li></ul><ul><li>Need to plan for the unplannable! </li></ul><ul><li>Leave room for flexibility and spontaniety in communication crisis plan </li></ul><ul><li>A few staff can have tremendous impact – eyewitness </li></ul><ul><li>Clear guidelines and briefings for (field) staff </li></ul><ul><li>Keep social media channels active all the time – immediate response </li></ul><ul><li>International working group to elaborate strategy and guidelines </li></ul><ul><li>Crisis communication plan for web/social media: who does what? </li></ul><ul><li>Rebalance efforts between web and social media </li></ul>Strategy
    41. 41. <ul><li>Social media - checklist </li></ul><ul><li>Be prepared – have your channels ready. </li></ul><ul><li>And set up clear guidelines, a useful strategy and determine goals. </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure you have support from managing teams. When the crisis hits – you will lose too much time asking for permission. </li></ul><ul><li>Accept that it is a learning by doing process that requires flexibility. </li></ul><ul><li>And when you start communicate </li></ul><ul><li>Be nice </li></ul><ul><li>Tell the truth </li></ul><ul><li>Talk, but listen just as much </li></ul><ul><li>Share and exchange </li></ul><ul><li>Answer all direct questions – just as you would answer the phone in your office. </li></ul>Checklist
    42. 42. <ul><li>Social media friendly communication - Some basics for producing good content </li></ul><ul><li>Varied  try to cover a broad base of content types </li></ul><ul><li>Human  informal tone and human edited </li></ul><ul><li>Authentic  blogs, video diaries, photo slideshows create proximity and understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Credible  giving quick snapshots of the reality you work in and possiblities to interact with donors (customers) </li></ul><ul><li>Timely  publish issues of relevance when relevant. Follow ongoing debates. </li></ul><ul><li>Frequent  frequent updates are crucial to keep fans and followers interested and engaged. </li></ul><ul><li>Inclusive  don’t use social media only for self-promotion </li></ul>
    43. 43. Thank you! <ul><li>Information, ideas, comments… </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Find this presentation on slideshare </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>