Carefully Crafted on November 08

Crisis Communication: Quick and Relevant

At last year’s Ragan Social Media for Communicators conference, Gerald Baron, a crisis communication expert, told us: “If you’re not quick, you’re not relevant.” Instead of distributing a press release every few hours, it’s more effective to share short, accurate bursts of information. As a PR person who’s been heavily involved in multiple crisis situations, that resonated.

I live in Orlando — so last week’s shooting hit close to home. Those kinds of things happen elsewhere — not in your own backyard! And certainly not on the heels of a shooting on an military base. The news initially broke as I was out to lunch. When I  returned to the office, local TV news was playing in our conference room. At my desk, I monitored Twitter and checked out the local online TV feeds (some much better than others). Throughout the day, I was impressed with the Orlando Sentinel — a paper that catches its share of flack. On this day, the paper embodied quick and relevant.

As PR pros, we understand how social media has changedOrlando Sentinel Twitter information dissemination. But, I was impressed with the Sentinel’s “social news” approach. More than a few reporters shared details via Twitter. They developed a photo gallery. The technology reporter created a Twitter list aggregating media outlets tweeting news, as well as locals on lockdown tweeting what they heard and saw. The Sentinel even purchased and redirected it to the site’s main page aggregating news updates.

It turns out that in a crisis, the most relevant reporters and media outlets also embrace speed of information sharing. (Note this common ground between PR people and reporters!) There’s been a lot of discussion recently about citizen journalism — it’s value and downfalls. What do you think it means when traditional reporters become part of the “citizen journalism” culture? How does this shift impact reporting, PR and the news process?

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  1. […] who apparently attended one of my presentations about social media and crisis communication. In his post he provided an excellent example of how old media (newspaper–in this case the Orlando Sentinel) is adopting the crowd-sourcing […]

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