Thursday, June 23, 2011

For your crisis kit: Social media ideas from 3 sectors

Early on, social media users figured out the form's utility during emergencies, and using social channels for crisis communications has been evolving ever since. Here's a handful of ideas, results and examples from several sectors to add to your crisis kit:
  • When fire guts a business, some business owners blog. Restaurant owner Bruce Buschel blogs for the New York Times about running his business, and has kept that up in the wake of a fire that all but destroyed the restaurant. It's a compelling read, and one I bet will have customers feeling even more connected to the eatery when it reopens. Buschel's taking the time to share lessons learned via the blog, something I'm sure business owners are wincing at and reading.
  • Crowdsourcing the crowd after a crisis: Building on a service Google has offered in the wake of natural disasters, the Red Cross now offers this "safe and well" site that allows you to notify loved ones that you are safe and what your status is--or lets your family search for you. Current disasters are noted for you to choose from, and local Red Cross chapters are promoting its availability.
  • Campuses use a full-court press during crises: Two universities that had close calls with gunmen on campus took the time to review and share lessons and data from their recent crises. Missouri University of Science and Technology shares its lessons here; director of communications Andrew Careaga shares how he used a blog format on the university's "in case of emergency" website, and how local media reported using the campus Twitter and Facebook feeds for updates. The University of Texas communications team offers this thorough recap, with data and assessments, of how it handled a similar crisis; useful are the questions they pose for you to consider, and what they would do differently. Client UMBC had a different kind of "lights out" with a multi-day end-of-term power outage that affected the entire campus. Here, a YouTube video explains after the fact how the outage occurred and why the whole campus was affected, using a nice mix of low- and high-tech to quickly show and tell. Don't underestimate the desire for this kind of basic information in the wake of a crisis.

Special thanks to Patric Lane for sharing some of these sources.

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