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Guest Post By David Clare
In Public Relations crises happen all the time. Hopefully not all the time for your organisation, but in the entire industry they happen quite often.
An organisation would hopefully have some sort of plans to call upon when a crisis presents itself. Quality issues management before hand would see to that. These plans would have information on who to communicate to, how to communicate and more importantly what to communicate. The key to handling a crisis is therefore communication.
Communication has changed a great deal in such a short time. Social Media is the new kid on the block, traditional media and heavy users of old formats were wary of this new medium, many barely recognising it as any more than a fad. Now it is commonly accepted that Social Media is important for communication, since it is the format a vast majority of an organisations publics will use.
In a crisis there is one perfect contender for the method of communication… Twitter. This Micro-Blogging Social Network is perfect in the event of a crisis. Tweets are short and to the point. Information in a crisis is not always available, and going on the radio, television or interviews for print would require spreading any information available pretty thin.
Twitter can update using whatever information available, even with little information it could look more substantial due to the limitations of 140 characters.
Twitter has reported many crises now, The Miracle of the Hudson River Plane crash is a major case study. This story broke on Twitter, and the first image of the plane was on TwitPic – which also crashed, due to the high number of people trying to access the image.
Others disasters have occurred and the stories have broken on Twitter. The Jakarta bombings in 2009 and the Turkish Airlines plane crash in Amsterdam. Some may not break on Twitter, but the publicity is multiplied by the sheer amounts of tweeting. From my own observations Haiti was a trending topic non-stop for three weeks.
What needs to be done now is for organisations to use Twitter more and more in crisis management. The tweets are perfect for updating publics and journalists. It can also help the image of the organisation in crisis. By simply using Twitter it sends out the message that you are willing to communicate, listen and sympathise with people affected. The Marriott group had this exact reaction when they used Twitter to communicate after the Jakarta Bombings mentioned earlier.
So when you create your Twitter plan, don’t just use it for customer service, think of the bigger events that may occur. Plan now for using Twitter in a crisis, and in the unlucky event a crisis may occur it should be a smoother ride.
Check out David and more of his ideas here: www.theprview.co.uk