Tutorial #2 Lessons from Game Changing Crisis Communications for Hurricane Season

Tutorial #2 by Gerard Braud, iReporter Evangelist

With hurricane season upon us, and other violent weather such as floods, hail, and tornadoes hitting much of the United States this time of year, we are focusing on how to effectively use video to communicate in a crisis. Today’s lesson stems from what we learned eight years ago about the power of video, especially when it is uploaded directly to CNN as an iReport.

Tutorial #2 Still image Gerard Braud

Click image to watch video

Think back to April 16, 2007, the day of the Virginia Tech massacre. Thirty-two people were murdered. The image that may stand out the most for you would have been a cell phone videos, shot by a student, capturing the sounds of gunshots.

The student shot the video, then uploaded it as a CNN iReport.

This was the moment, for me, that the world of news coverage and crisis communications changed.

You can watch today’s tutorial video to learn more.

I’ve worn and still do, wear many hats. My primary job is as a crisis communications expert, teaching organizations how to effectively communicate with the media, their employees and other key audiences during a crisis. I also worked for 15 years as a full-time journalist. And occasionally, I’m a citizen journalist, filing CNN iReports.

From a crisis communications standpoint, Virginia Tech failed to effectively communicate with the media, their students, their faculty, and many other audiences on the day of their massacre.

Furthermore, had they communicated properly and evacuated the campus in a timely manner, that student would have not been on campus with his cellphone, and therefore would not have captured that video, and therefore would not have been able to sent it to CNN, and therefore the media would never have had the video.

At the same time, had the university’s own public relations team been aware of the power of a CNN iReport, they could have actually provided their own statement directly to CNN by filing an iReport.

This entire sequence of events was a game changer. It signified to all public relations people, to all spokespeople, and to all Public Information Officers, that someone is going to tell your story. It can either be you, as a professional with official and accurate information, or the story will be told by an eyewitness with a smart phone.

Yet here we are in 2013, six years later, and I’d be willing to be the vast majority of public relations people and Public Information Officers (PIO) have never given it a second thought. I’d bet most people do not have an idea how to do this? I know this to be true because when I suggest it in the workshops I teach, a portion of the class is amazed that they’ve never thought of it. Another portion can only make up reasons as to why they think their boss will reject the idea, admitting that they do not have the tenacity to stand up to the boss and make a strong, legitimate case for why web videos need to be an important part of their crisis communication and media relations plan.

Who do you want telling your story during your crisis?

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF of the program description: Social Media iReports.pdf, so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.

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