Saturday, August 6, 2011

Crisis Communication Plan: Use of Social Media

In a recent presentation on the 5 Essential Elements of Crisis Communication in the Era of Social Media (i.e. (a) open; (b) timely. (c) 100% truthful; (d) Internet present; and (d) broadly communicated), one of the executives asked if broadly communicated was necessary if the crisis was developing only in cyberspace. His perspective was that, as crisis communicators, we should not be unnecessarily enlarging the number of “fronts” on which to fight the battle by involving the main stream media.

My response was this.

In the era of Social Media, there is an increasing overlap between social and main stream media. Often, what starts out in social media, is picked-up by main stream media and reported. A prime example is the Mar 2011 incident involving the picture of a maid carrying the field-pack of a Singapore Armed Forces' Full-Time National Serviceman. In this example, the crisis began when a reader on STOMP (Straits Time Online Mobile Print) found the picture on Facebook and uploaded in onto the website. Within days, the picture went viral and was carried in all major main stream media. This is but one example.

Hence, while I agree with the executive that we should limit the fronts where we fight so as to concentrate our efforts, we need to acknowledge that social media and main stream media are becoming one and the same. With main stream media journalists increasingly tapping on social media for the next “big news”, by confining our response to a negative blog posting or online mention to only social media, we are effectively conceding the information initiative and this makes it harder for us to frame a developing crisis in our favour.

Thus a crisis communication plan must be disseminated as broadly as possible.

(For more information on crisis communication training for your organisation, contact

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