Crisis communications *is* social

I’m on the platform tomorrow at Social Media Influence, talking about social media and crisis communications.

I’ve always got a lot out of SMI conferences in previous years, both as a delegate, and from the platform, so I expect tomorrow’s to be the same.

As far as I’m concerned, good crisis communications using social media channels is no different from good communications using ‘traditional’ media. In fact, the internal structures required to deal with a crisis perfectly map the best structures for dealing with social media per se, given the ‘always on’ nature of social.

My experience as a PR for BBC News during (and after) 9/11, and then running TfL’s media relations during the introduction of the congestion charge, and more recently helping Eurostar during their snow-induced crisis least year taught me that you need three distinct teams to operate effectively during a crisis.

  • One team to listen/monitor both internal and external commentary
  • A second to prepare collateral (both original material, and responses where appropriate)
  • And a third to distribute that material


Yes, the channels have changed (from PA and broadcasters to your own site and then cascaded out via Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, as well as PA/broadcast) and the speed of response has changed,  but the overall approach remains the same. Gather information, shape it, then distribute it. And the adage ‘nature abhors a vacuum’ remains – a theme I picked up in my piece for Reputation Online just before I was seconded in to Eurostar’s corporate comms team to establish and structure their pan-European corporate social media presence.

If you’re there, come and say hi.