Survey shows crisis plans still not grasping crucial nature of social media


A new, invaluable survey by Everbridge shows what most crisis managers likely surmised, and the news is not good.

The survey of 125 corporate, 115 government and 84 health-related organizations’ crisis response teams found that nearly six in 10 [58 percent] have no social media plan for a crisis.

No  social  media  plan  for  a  crisis.

Most recognize its value; almost all see the benefits of using it and mobile devices in a crisis, but too few have worked it into an actual plan.

Why? There are three major given reasons from the survey: No one asked for it; no one authorized it; and there is lack of staff to use it/implement it. And I’ll add a fourth: Scared.

Those reasons shape up to excuses, not valid justifications. Staffing? Hire a college intern with smarts and she’ll show you all you need to know in about two hours. Authorization? Did anyone seek it? No one asked? Is that any way to run a crisis plan?

Hello people? The survey’s majority is turning a mole hill into a mountain.

Crisis managers are [almost?] never those who wait for something to happen. They are and should be like doomsday planners. Always worrying about whether there is enough bottled water and MREs. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Practice hard to make the game easy.

The survey did have some good news. Strategists recognize the role social media can play among other more popular [and comfortable] response tools as follows: Email, 86.9 percent; Mobile phones, 58.1 percent; Land lines, 56.3 percent; social media, 37.9 percent; SMS 29.3 percent; pagers 18.9 percent; and, as embarrassing as it is to list, Fax, 11.7 percent.

When actual survey responses are listed about social media, they generally fall into the “we should be doing this,” category.

Surely, for the uninitiated and under-practiced, social media can bewilder the smartest among us. Twitter is probably the simplest concept since the telegraph, but people who haven’t used it allow it to intimidate them.

Said one crisis manager: “We need to invest. It’s not the future, it’s now.” Correct.

The survey concludes that crisis managers are in transition. They know that more traditional forms of communication are no longer adequate on their own, but they’re reluctant to embrace current tools.

This, Everbridge concludes: “suggests a challenge with leadership understanding the evolution and applicability of technology and social media.”

The survey’s final page provides a checklist for getting started with incorporating social media in crisis communications planning. Use the link above, it’s worth it.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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