How to Use Social Media for Crisis Communications

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC 

One of the best new social media tools for crisis communications is Facebook Live. Second in your crisis communications toolkit should be YouTube Live. Third would be any of the other live platforms on social media channels where your audience might follow you during a crisis. For some of you, LinkedIn Live or Periscope on Twitter are a good fit.

You should especially embrace live platforms during serious weather events and natural disasters. For example, this is being written during the first week of September 2019. Annually this is the most active week of hurricane season. Last week we saw the devastation of Hurricane Dorian. With the massive number of communities threatened, Live video would have been and should have been in the tool chest of every community, every utility company, every law enforcement agency, and many companies.

If your company, community, or organization could be affected by a hurricane this season, live video becomes a great way to manage the expectations of your audience before a crisis. Live video becomes a great crisis communications tool during the crisis, and after the event is over, you can inform your audience about how the event affected them in their relationship to you. For example, you can broadcast information about how long before roads are opened or how long before power is restored.

A perfect example would be that an electric company or any government agency could use live videos to warn their audiences about the need for disaster preparation. They could give guidelines for evacuation or precautions. Most importantly, they could use live videos to manage the expectations of which creature comforts might be lost as a result of the hurricane.

Keep in mind, this is also true all winter long when forecasters predict freezing rain, ice storms, blizzards, and other winter storms. This is also true all during tornado season.

Weather events can become crisis events.

Weather events cause a loss of creature comforts such as heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, lights, and all things utility related in a weather event.

People might not evacuate during a hurricane out of fear that they could die. However, they might evacuate – and be less of a burden to you after the storm – if you clearly inform them of how miserable they will be without lights, refrigeration, and air conditioning.

Also remember, that when the lights go out, people turn to social media for updates. Your live videos can and should be their updates.

During Tropical Storm and Hurricane Barry in July 2019, I did a number of live news videos on Facebook Live and YouTube Live so you can see examples of what you need to be prepared to do.

  • Your lighting needs to be good enough for us to see your face.
  • Your audio needs to be good to overcome wind noise.
  • Your content needs to be brief and to the point.
  • You can’t afford to mess up because you are live.
  • You get one chance to get it right, so you better practice.

My videos are often near perfect because I have lots of practice. For 15 years I was a TV reporter, doing live reports daily. Chances are I’ve been on TV live up to 5,000 times.

The real question, is how good can you be live?

If you’d like help being great when you shoot videos live and pre-recorded, check out my program called Weathering the Storm. It is a great hands-on, interactive course to help you make the most of social media and videos during a crisis.

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

Please Pick Me to be Your Media Trainer

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson

Hurricane Hack #3 by Gerard Braud

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

You may be reading this wondering, why in the world is a crisis communications expert delving out hurricane hacks? Well, I train organizations and companies to prepare for their crises with effective communications strategies before their crises. The same principle applies when it comes to facing the crisis of a hurricane. Prepare early. Prepare before the hurricane hits.

In hurricane hack #1 I talked about a refrigerator hurricane hack, then I delivered hurricane hack #2, the bathtub hack, which could really save you and your family during and after a tropical storm or hurricane. Today’s tip is a little unexpected, and involves bartering during a hurricane. View the video here:

There was a “perfect storm” when Hurricane Katrina hit, as it fell on Labor Day weekend. I evacuated to Florida, and all of the Florida stores were stocked up on beer for the Labor Day weekend. Along with all my power tools I stocked in my car to take back to Louisiana to use to repair my home, I also stocked up on beer, which was selling for dirt cheap.

Florida stores needed to get rid of it after the holiday weekend, and I brought it home knowing my hometown would be wiped out of such a commodity. Not to mention, the sale of liquor and beer is cut off after a hurricane to help prevent communities from abusing such a substance during a difficult time.

Well, the beer worked like magic. As soon as I returned home, contractors and repair men were completely swamped with work. I needed my electricity back on, my yard cleared of tree limbs, and offering the workers a simple beer got my job pushed to the top of the list. The beer came in handy in many of my negotiations over the next few days.

Beer. The ultimate hurricane hack. Buy it BEFORE the storm, so you have it after the storm. Beer is great for barter.

If you liked this hurricane hack, stay tuned for more hurricane hacks and crisis communications tips on the BraudCast YouTube channel!

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

Recent articles:

Please Pick Me to be Your Media Trainer

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson

Hurricane Hack #2

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

I train companies and organizations how to effectively communicate in a crisis. This requires work in advance on a clear sunny day, to prepare for their worst day.

The same principle applies as I prepare for potential storms and hurricanes during hurricane season at my lakefront home just outside of New Orleans. The work is done before the storm hits, to be prepared during the storm and after the storm.

In hurricane hack #1 I talked about a refrigerator hurricane hack and today I bring to you hurricane hack #2, the bathtub hack, which could really save you and your family during and after a tropical storm or hurricane.

When there is a hurricane, communities often lose their water supply completely or it could be contaminated. Whether you choose to stay in your home during the storm or you have evacuated, you will need drinking water, bathing water, and toilet water. Here is how not to come home to, or live in a home with no running water.

Do NOT simply fill your bathtub with water. The barometric pressure could change so much, that you could still come home to no water.

Grab or buy a large plastic tub and fill it with water before the storm. You can scoop it out to use for the toilet or use it in any way you need to.

If you liked this hurricane hack, view Hurricane Hack #1 and stay tuned for more hurricane hacks and crisis communications tips on the BraudCast YouTube channel!

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

Recent articles:

Please Pick Me to be Your Media Trainer

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson

Hurricane Hack #1

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

Hurricanes and tropical storms definitely qualify as a potential crisis. This means you need to prepare for three phases of the storm: Before, during, and after.

Today’s Hurricane Hack is my favorite tip. It is based on my experience as a TV Reporter, storm chaser, and Gulf Coast resident. What I’ve learned is that after a storm, people crave three things: 1) Drinkable water, 2) ice to cool that water, and 3) ice to protect the contents of their refrigerator if there is a power outage.

You can have all three if you follow these tips:

1) Before the storm, fill plastic storage containers with water and place them in your freezer until they are frozen.

2) After they are frozen, place a penny on the tip of the ice. We’ll tell you why in a moment.

3) Before you evacuate, or if the power goes out, leave some of the containers in your freezer. Place other containers in your refrigerator. These containers of ice should help keep the contents of the freezer and the refrigerator cold.

4) If the ice in your storage container starts to melt, the penny will begin to sink. If you come home from an evacuation and find the penny is in the bottom of the container, that means you lost power for a significant period of time and the contents of your freezer and refrigerator may have spoiled.

After the storm, if your community’s water supply has been contaminated or interrupted, the water and/or ice in those storage containers is drinkable. Sure, it may taste like a penny, but you at least have additional drinking water.

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

Recent articles:

Please Pick Me to be Your Media Trainer

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson