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Crisis Communications Online:
    Web and Social Media

 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency




                                        Rev Sep 2012
Example – July 26, 2012




Some people will never trust our information – during
      incidents or everyday communications.         2
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
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:
   – DATA.gov: http://www.data.gov/list/agency/4/*
   – BP Spill Sediment Sampling on Socrata:
     https://opendata.socrata.com/Government/Sediment-
     Sampling/dhdf-vszi

                                                                    4
The Comms Hourglass




                      5
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Example Maps and Graphics:
 Japanese Nuclear Incident




                             13
Example Maps and Graphics:
 Japanese Nuclear Incident




                             14
Example Maps and Graphics (continued)
• EPA’s current RadNet Data Map:
  http://www.epa.gov/japan2011/rert/radnet-data-map.html
   – More detailed information
   – Interactive and zoomable




                                                      15
Example
       Facebook
      Engagement
• Part of a conversation
  from April 28, 2011
• http://www.facebook.com
  /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
Example
       Facebook
      Engagement
      (continued)
• More comments
• http://www.facebook.c
  om/EPA/posts/1440055
  32334253
• Listening is important
  here!
• Showing concern earns
  goodwill.


                     17
Contact Information
• Jessica Orquina, EPA Social Media Lead
  – orquina.jessica@epa.gov
  – 202-564-0446
  – @JAOrquina on Twitter
• Jeffrey Levy, EPA Director of Web Communications
  – levy.jeffrey@epa.gov
  – 202-564-9727
  – @levyj413 on Twitter
Related Blog posts and Presentations
• Using the hourglass to respond:
  http://www.govloop.com/profiles/blogs/using-
  the-hourglass-to-respond
• When to respond:
  http://www.govloop.com/profiles/blogs/social-
  media-sweet-spot-when
• Facetweeting well:
  http://www.slideshare.net/levyj413/facetweeting
  -how-to-and-lessons-learned-from-epas-
  experiences
                                                19
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
    – www.facebook.com/EPA
    – Region, geographical, and       • YouTube: one account
      program pages                      – www.youtube.com/usepagov
• Twitter: multiple accts             • Flickr: one account
    – @EPAgov                            – www.flickr.com/photos/usepag
    – Region, geographical, and            ov
      program accounts                • Challenge.gov: one account
• Foursquare: one account                – http://challenge.gov/epa
    – https://foursquare.com/epagov   • More social media at EPA

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Crisis Communications Online: Web and Social Media

  • 1. Crisis Communications Online: Web and Social Media U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Rev Sep 2012
  • 2. Example – July 26, 2012 Some people will never trust our information – during incidents or everyday communications. 2
  • 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. 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: – DATA.gov: http://www.data.gov/list/agency/4/* – BP Spill Sediment Sampling on Socrata: https://opendata.socrata.com/Government/Sediment- Sampling/dhdf-vszi 4
  • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Example Maps and Graphics: Japanese Nuclear Incident 13
  • 14. Example Maps and Graphics: Japanese Nuclear Incident 14
  • 15. Example Maps and Graphics (continued) • EPA’s current RadNet Data Map: http://www.epa.gov/japan2011/rert/radnet-data-map.html – More detailed information – Interactive and zoomable 15
  • 16. Example Facebook Engagement • Part of a conversation from April 28, 2011 • http://www.facebook.com /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. 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. Contact Information • Jessica Orquina, EPA Social Media Lead – orquina.jessica@epa.gov – 202-564-0446 – @JAOrquina on Twitter • Jeffrey Levy, EPA Director of Web Communications – levy.jeffrey@epa.gov – 202-564-9727 – @levyj413 on Twitter
  • 19. Related Blog posts and Presentations • Using the hourglass to respond: http://www.govloop.com/profiles/blogs/using- the-hourglass-to-respond • When to respond: http://www.govloop.com/profiles/blogs/social- media-sweet-spot-when • Facetweeting well: http://www.slideshare.net/levyj413/facetweeting -how-to-and-lessons-learned-from-epas- experiences 19
  • 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 – www.facebook.com/EPA – Region, geographical, and • YouTube: one account program pages – www.youtube.com/usepagov • Twitter: multiple accts • Flickr: one account – @EPAgov – www.flickr.com/photos/usepag – Region, geographical, and ov program accounts • Challenge.gov: one account • Foursquare: one account – http://challenge.gov/epa – https://foursquare.com/epagov • More social media at EPA