Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
September 19, 2013

Social Media: When “It” Hits the Fan

There is so much to dislike about social media — yet, there are so many new avenues of communication available to you during a crisis that it becomes hard to do so. On the other hand, social media can also blow up with excessive criticism and hate. Add to that the fact that your older executives may freak out when they read all of the negative criticism. You then have a real PR problem on your hands. However, it is impossible to overlook the power of circumventing the media in certain crises when you can’t get news coverage by taking your message straight to your social media audience. Also, it is gratifying to get positive feedback from people who are hungry for news updates and find solace in knowing you provided them vital information.


Are you as tired of this merry-go-round as I am? Sorting it all out is nothing short of exhausting.

So, what do you think? Does “shiny and new” beat “tried and true?” In other words, does new social media serve you better than the traditional approach to crisis communications?

What happens if you combine all of the new social media, the latest technology, great media relations and great crisis communications? I have done it while in seven feet of floodwaters with no electricity for five days. I ended up on live television on CNN and The Weather Channel, broadcasting my story from the heart of a hurricane, where even their own news crews couldn’t go. Would you like to learn the secrets of doing that? Some of them can be found here.

To help you sort it all out, you are invited to join me Sept. 24 in Arlington, Va., where we will explore the good, bad and ugly of social media for crisis communications. Do not come if you are expecting suggestions for one magic solution that works for every organization — there is no such thing. For a sample of what you will hear, visit here.

Come prepared to discover the right fit for your organization — not the force fit that legions of social media consultants have tried to cram down your throat.

You will explore not only the good and bad side of social media, you will also discern which elements of a good crisis communications plan, good media relations and good employee communications are vital.

You will find case studies of companies that have used social media brilliantly in a crisis, as well as companies that have spent millions only to find that no one really wanted to participate in their conversations.

Also on our agenda is a healthy list of actions you should take on a clear sunny day, in order to be prepared for your darkest. You will discover that the core elements of a strong communications plan can lay the foundation for every action you take during a crisis. You will be relieved to learn that most of the decisions you will make, and most of the statements you need to write and issue, can all be prepared months and years in advance.

Don’t forget speed. Fast communications is the secret spice of all effective crisis communications.

One final thought: if you plan to join us for the seminar, clear your calendar for when you get back to the office, because you will leave with a significant list of action items that you will want to work on as soon as possible.

Gerard Braud PhotoGerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC, is president and CEO of Braud Communications. An expert in media training and crisis communications, Braud has spent 15 years as an award-winning journalist, with affiliate reports seen around the world on CNN, CBS, NBC and the BBC, and has been quoted in more than 500 publications around the world.

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