ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
February 8, 2013

Social Media & Technology When “It” Hits the Fan


Super Storm Sandy helped to bring greater awareness to the struggles that communicators and leaders face during crises — and to the need for equally super crisis communications preparation and training.

Imagine having an arsenal of communications technology at your disposal, yet having no electricity to use it. For people who try to build too much of their communications strategy around a single means of communication, such as social media, the old adage, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” has never been truer.

Today’s public relations professional is deluged with pressure to use social media. But as with all communications channels, the secret is to find the right fit, rather than force a fit. Social media is never a “one-size-fits-all” solution, nor should it be. At the same time, public relations practitioners should recognize that tried and true often beats shiny and new.

As crisis communications practitioner and a network news correspondent, I’ve learned to combine the best of technology, with the best uses of social media tools, with the best lessons of media relations and public relations, and then apply it all to crisis communications — probably in ways you’ve never imagined.

I’ve used this system successfully in two hurricanes, broadcasting to CNN and The Weather Channel live from the flood waters of my home on Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans. Standing in chest deep water without electricity, armed with an iPhone, G3 and Skype, I was able to take the networks into parts of the story inaccessible to those million dollar satellite trucks.

What’s more, my entrée to the networks began by using social media channels, including sending Tweets directly to reporters with the proper Twitter hash tags, and using YouTube videos and optimizing those videos for search engine optimization (SEO), then combining it all with traditional media relations.

An examination of your own business, government agency or non-profit likely will prove that, if you learn all of the secrets about these techniques and technologies, that you can become a crisis communication juggernaut for your employer. This is the kind of stuff that will amaze your boss and distinguish you as worth every penny they pay you … and then some.

I’m opening my secret playbook and offering to coach each of you through this process. All you have to do is pack your bags and meet me in New York, and you’ll return home with new ideas and best practices tailored specifically to your industry and organizational setting.

Gerard Braud is chief executive officer and president of Braud Communications. His day-long seminar, “Social Media for Crisis Communications: How New Technology and Social Media Can be Combined with Crisis Response Skills,” will take place at PRSA Headquarters in New York on February 25. Register now!

  • Tburnham526

     

    Hey, I am a college student and this blog was really
    helpful. It made me think of my future in Public Relations and how I cannot be
    narrow minded. I have to remember that I need to have an open mind on all
    different types of communications with the public.Thanks

  • Mrlawson1

    This is a wise post! Experience teaches me not to rely on
    single forms of communication. Social media is pushed as the latest and greatest
    resource for PR practitioners and while this is true, there are other means
    available. However, in today’s society there is little choice but to use some
    sort of technology to get in touch with necessary contacts. Your advice is good,
    thanks for the great post!

     

  • DariusGivens

    This is a very informative post. Social media these days really are a great PR tool. It also showed me that if you are going to get into PR you have to always know new ways to get in contact with the public.

  • http://twitter.com/sadie_eicher Sadie Eicher

    As a public relations student, this post was very insightful! While social media is a new trend in the PR field, it is always important to remember that while in some situations it is the best tactic, it isn’t always. While I think social media is useful to the PR field and a up and coming tactic, it’s important to remember it doesn’t always work best to communicate a message. Thanks!

  • Kyler King

    This post was very interesting. Crisis management is a huge topic in the field of PR, and is something that (in my future career) I will need to become a “juggernaut” at. I found it very helpful as a PR student immersed in social media to recognize that social media isn’t always the answer. Also that when it is the answer, using the proper hash tags and YouTube videos will help set myself apart from other practitioners.  

  • Idsmith1

    Communication is key! That’s the first thing that I think of when I read this post. Communicating can be done in many ways and social media is the biggest of them all.