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!

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