Crisis Communication and the Importance of Social Media

This week, in my public relations class, we were asked to view a presentation by Jim Rettew of the American Red Cross .  In his presentation, he explained that it is important to know what is being said about your organization on social media network sites  for three reasons: it can start a crisis, it can fuel a crisis, and it’s effective at informing people of a crisis. 

After viewing the slide about social media’s effectiveness on informing people of a crisis, I immediately thought of the New York plane crash into the Hudson River.  I read multiple stories back in January 2009 that praised Twitter for informing the public about the crash and giving constant updates through tweets and twitpics (like the one below!).  These tweets and twitpics came before the media even had time to send reporters out to the scene.


Jim also mentioned that the benefits of social media decrease the demand from the media, help the organization manage communications remotely, allow citizens to influence the message without a media filter, and allow for quick implementation.

Another section of Jim’s presentation that I thought was interesting was the part about googling negative comments about your organization.  For example, if you’re the Public Relations manager for Forever21 and you’re tracking stories and thoughts online for  Forever21, Google “I Hate Forever21” and see what comes up.  When I searched that phrase, I found over 15 million entries that came up!  Knowing why people dislike your organization or product gives you insight to what changes need to be made in order to turn haters into lovers. 🙂


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