Communicating in a Crisis: Social Media Best Practices

Every organization faces risks and challenges unique to their industry or line of work every day, but none are as paramount as keeping their general population safe during an emergency situation.  With the influx of mass shootings, natural disasters, concerns over terrorism and more— most organizations have recognized the need for unified action to minimize risks as well as effective policies and procedures to support these actions. Often, the most critical component of safety in a crisis situation does not come in prevention. Instead, it lies in the ability of the organization to respond and communicate clearly, directly, in a timely manner and frequently once a crisis has been identified.

Whether you are calling for a shelter-in-place or providing a status update to the outside community, social media communication is one of the most effective tools during an emergency situation. Through every comment, like and share, the information flow created from social media can help to spread the word of an emergency quicker than any other medium—in fact, many other news sources use social media as their primary source during an emerging crisis.

While crisis does not differentiate by industry, the nature of the education industry makes it uniquely susceptible to potential emergency situations. Campus Safety has published an article Crisis Communication in the Age of Social Media to help guide professionals in the education industry (in emergency management and beyond) in understanding best practices for social media on a college campus, before, during and after a crisis. The article helps this industry develop a social media response plan based on their unique exposures and challenges during an emergency situation.

Recently, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has developed a free online course to help organizations of all industries stay up-to-date on the appropriate and effective use of social media during an emergency.  The free online course leverages the concepts and principles of the National Response Framework to provide users with a foundational understanding of social media emergency response, key tools and techniques and a guide to building social capabilities within your emergency management department.

Click Here to access the free 3hr informative course from FEMA. After concluding the course, you will be able to take a 28 question exam to earn 0.3 CEUs. The course may serve as a great training tool for any employees or professionals responsible for the emergency response management. 

Failure to act and communicate effectively in the event of an emergency can cause significant damage to an organization’s reputation and bottom-line, but more importantly, it can also put your employees, customers, guests and broader community at risk.