Crisis Communications Online: Web and Social Media


Published on

How EPA uses online tools to communicate during crises like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill, and the Japanese nuclear incident after their huge earthquake.

Crisis Communications Online: Web and Social Media

  1. 1. Crisis Communications Online: Web and Social Media U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Rev Sep 2012
  2. 2. Example – July 26, 2012Some people will never trust our information – during incidents or everyday communications. 2
  3. 3. A Little EPA History• “Normal” Crisis Response used for 9/11, Columbia, Katrina/Rita – Response website – Email distribution list – In-house data / mapping• BP Oil Spill – Response website – Facebook, Twitter in broadcast mode – “Suggest ideas to solve the problem” online form, offline review – In-house data /mapping plus Socrata, Google Earth for data sharing• Japanese Nuclear Incident – Response website – Facebook, Twitter initially to broadcast, then started answering questions – Immediately began using Socrata – didn’t build our own tool 3
  4. 4. Socrata• Interactive tables: like Excel without buying it – Sortable – Filterable• But also other features – Shareable – Downloadable in multiple formats – API allowed others to access and analyze (no one did that we could discover)• EPA data available: –* – BP Spill Sediment Sampling on Socrata: Sampling/dhdf-vszi 4
  5. 5. The Comms Hourglass 5
  6. 6. The Comms Hourglass• Collect questions and comments through multiple channels: – Email – Facebook, Twitter – Phone• Collate similar questions, categorize and prioritize• Write one answer, maybe reworked as appropriate for various channels, at the most general level of detail appropriate• Send response via multiple channels BEYOND reporters/Congress: – Website FAQ – Email to subscribers and directly to original writer – Facebook, Twitter (possibly multiple accounts) – Comments on Socrata and elsewhere 6
  7. 7. Crisis Response Website• Clean design – focus on most important info – Environmental data (air monitoring; air, water and sediment sampling) – Maps (simple can be better than complex) – Simple FAQs – Photos / videos – Explanatory graphics as appropriate (e.g., how does an air monitor work?)• Update several times daily as situation develops• Always date and time stamp pages 7
  8. 8. Lessons Learned: Facetweeting• Use friendly, personal language.• Provide conclusions in the post: “the result is X” instead of “the report is ready.” – Still provide the link – But know that most won’t follow it• Repeat, repeat, repeat. Many (maybe most) won’t see the first post. – Flows off bottom before they see it – Don’t notice it (applies to Twitter, too)• Frequency, speed, and informality win the day 8
  9. 9. Responding to Comments / Questions• Make your comment policy obvious and remind people of it.• Separate serious questions from arguments, conspiracy theories.• Balance individual attention with serving the broader audience. – Look for common themes. – Remember: the asker often isn’t the only one wondering.• Thick skin! Some won’t believe you. This is difficult.• Respond within 24 hours if possible.• Clear people, not content, but know the sensitive topics and clear those responses when appropriate.• Engagement begets engagement.• Sometimes critics raise good points you need to address. 9
  10. 10. Social media tools• Use a mix as appropriate• Think about broadcast vs. engagement• Broadcast (no penalty for not responding) – Blog – Twitter – Flickr – Foursquare – YouTube – Socrata – Email lists (still important!)• Engagement: people expect a response, esp. in a crisis – Facebook – Idea generation (e.g., how to clean up after the BP spill) 10
  11. 11. How to Prepare• Start NOW – Tools only as useful as audience size – Don’t launch new tools expecting much viewership. – Build relationships ahead of time.• Get familiar with each tool’s tricks and features.• Set up clearance processes now.• Practice. Make up scenarios, talk through them.• Talk to management about what to expect. – What could go right and wrong. – How you’ll minimize risk and mitigate problems. 11
  12. 12. Simplicity, Maps, and Timeliness• Get simple information and graphics out as soon as possible. – Builds trust – Helps ease people’s concerns – Meets a need for information – Increases transparency• Concurrently work on more complex presentation 12
  13. 13. Example Maps and Graphics: Japanese Nuclear Incident 13
  14. 14. Example Maps and Graphics: Japanese Nuclear Incident 14
  15. 15. Example Maps and Graphics (continued)• EPA’s current RadNet Data Map: – More detailed information – Interactive and zoomable 15
  16. 16. Example Facebook Engagement• Part of a conversation from April 28, 2011• /EPA/posts/144005532334 253• One-on-one conversations increase trust.• LISTEN to what people are really asking• Answering one person’s concern addresses the concerns of many. 16
  17. 17. Example Facebook Engagement (continued)• More comments• http://www.facebook.c om/EPA/posts/1440055 32334253• Listening is important here!• Showing concern earns goodwill. 17
  18. 18. Contact Information• Jessica Orquina, EPA Social Media Lead – – 202-564-0446 – @JAOrquina on Twitter• Jeffrey Levy, EPA Director of Web Communications – – 202-564-9727 – @levyj413 on Twitter
  19. 19. Related Blog posts and Presentations• Using the hourglass to respond: the-hourglass-to-respond• When to respond: media-sweet-spot-when• Facetweeting well: -how-to-and-lessons-learned-from-epas- experiences 19
  20. 20. EPA’s Social Media• EPA is using social media to • Blogs & Discussion Forums: communicate with a wide Greenversations family variety of different audiences. – It’s Our Environment• Facebook: multiple accts Region, geographical, and program blogs – – Region, geographical, and • YouTube: one account program pages –• Twitter: multiple accts • Flickr: one account – @EPAgov – – Region, geographical, and ov program accounts • one account• Foursquare: one account – – • More social media at EPA