Disturbing Television News Trend #6: Social Media Backlash

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

By Gerard Braud

Social media is like a compass. A compass has 360 degrees or points on it. If you face one direction, the opposite direction is 180 degrees from you.

In social media, any time you take a position on a topic, you can be assured that someone else has an opinion 180 degrees away from you – or the exact opposite opinion. And for that much, if we keep with the compass analogy, if you were to put 360 social media participants in a virtual space, you can bet that no two feel exactly the same. Each has a different opinion, ranging from just one or two degrees off to being 180 degrees off – or feeling exactly the opposite of someone else.

Disturbing television media trend #7 is the trend of reporting what people think on social media. Rather than conducting a scientific poll to measure public opinion, television reporters and producers turn to Facebook and Twitter to report how people feel about any issue. This replaces a previous disturbing, sad trend of the “man on the street interview.” This is where a television reporter hopelessly stands on a street corner trying to get sound bites from random people, to fill a hole in a new story.

US coast guard saving family at seaA case in point of social media opinions run amuck, is the story that came to light on April 6, 2014, when a mother and father on a round-the-world sailboat trip sent out a distress signal because their one-year-old daughter was ill and their boat had lost steering 900 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Four California Air National Guard members parachuted into the water to rescue the family and bring them safely aboard the USS Vandergrift, which was headed to San Diego.

Facebook and Twitter lit up with criticism. The parents were called “irresponsible” and other things that won’t be mentioned here. People called into question the cost of the rescue. Opinions were all over the place.

In times past, such a story would have run on the news and people would have voiced their opinions at the office water cooler, at the corner bar, or at the beauty parlor. But social media is a virtual office water cooler, corner bar and beauty parlor all connected to the world’s largest amplifier. Add to it that search engines and hashtags allow the amplification to be searched and then amplified through the television news media, means the television media will tell you what people think.

Sadly, and with a degree of bias, the media tell you what they think the prevailing thoughts are, even though my compass analogy tells you that whatever one person thinks about this sailing trip and the rescue, someone else thinks something slightly or very different. For example, for each person who verbalizes their belief that the parents are crazy and that they put their infant at risk, there will be others who say life should be lived to the fullest.

Social media is full of opinions. Many of us have heard a variety of quotes about opinions. They range from the mild, “Opinions are like Belly Buttons, everybody has one;” to the slightly more crude, “Opinions are like farts. Just because you have one doesn’t mean you have to let it out;” to the even more crude analogy I heard during my television news career, “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and thinks that everyone else’s stinks.” (Google “Opinion Quotes” to see countless more.)

DUmb parents tweets sailingThe sad reality is the media, for nearly 20 years, has laid inflammatory opinions out for the public to hear, just to fuel a degree of outrage, so that people keep talking about what they heard on the news and where they heard it. News Talk Radio pioneered it and I’d say Rush Limbaugh turned it into an ugly ratings bonanza, copied by local talk radio, which has then been copied by Fox News and CNN each time they assemble a group of pundits who scream at each other with opposing views.

The story of the family on the sailboat has ushered in the most profound example of reporting based on anonymous opinions amplified on social media.

So how does this affect you if you are in PR and communications, working for a corporation, non-profit organization or government agency?

First, you must be more aware than ever that you will be judged harshly by critics for any and everything done by your organization, its executives and its employees. Your efforts at good news publicity will be condemned by naysayers. Your future crises will become the focal point for public hostility in social media. I predict that someday in the not too distant future, companies will go out of business simply because of public pressure on social media.

Ann Taylor 2Long term, your company could see serious damage to both reputation and revenue because of social media pressure. You could be forced to apologize for harmless acts or actions that capture the ire of social media.

Just such a thing happened to Ann Taylor Loft on May 22, 2014, when people on social media criticized an image of a model that, in the opinion of some, was too skinny. Others complained the photo had been retouched and contributed to the stigma that young women must be thin. Ann Taylor Loft reportedly said it was an awkward pose. Either way, the social media firestorm was enough to cause reputational damage and likely a degree of monetary damage to the company and the brand.

In conclusion, every corporation, non-profit organization and government agency, and the executives and employees of each, face tougher scrutiny than ever. The time is now to rethink your media relations, social media and crisis communications strategies. What got no attention in the past will be more amplified than ever in the most costly ways.

To watch “7 Disturbing News Media Trends and How You Can Combat Them” On Demand click here

Social Media When It Hits the Fan: NRECA Connect ’14 Conference Teach Back

By Gerard BraudCONNECT14 TWIT5

Last week at the NRECA Connect 14 Conference in San Antonio, Texas, you participated in the  “Social Media When It Hits the Fan” presentation.

Now I want to help you encourage your co-op managers to be better prepared for crisis communications, as well as to better understand social media and where social media fits into your crisis communications plan. My goal is for you to conduct a teach-back, at your electric cooperative, that mimics my presentation with the fan, the jump suits and the silly string. Remember to have a gallery of employees ready to capture the stunt and post it to social media, just as we did. Additionally, challenge your leaders to write a news release on a blank piece of paper, just as we did in the presentation.

If you’d like me to do the same presentation live for your statewide meeting of communicators, managers, and or CONNECT14 TWIT PIC2board members, please call me at 985-624-9976. I’d be honored to serve you.

So you can show your executives how fast social media spreads news about an event, I’ve included a few samples of the Twitter feed about the event, along with photos and videos posted by your fellow communicators. You can search for more online.

Finally, some of you asked about my program that allows your cooperative to write and complete a crisis communications plan in just two days. Details are on my website, but special pricing is available for co-ops. https://braudcommunications.com/crisis-communications/


Social Media When It Hits the Fan: Follow-up for NRECA Connect 14 Conference

By Gerard Braud

Here are your Free Crisis Communications Plan resources we discussed during my NRECA conference presentation in San Antonio last week.

Gerard Braud NRECA 14

Free Resource #1

To download a Free copy of the First Critical Statement used in my Crisis Communications Plan, use the coupon code CRISISCOMPLAN when you select the item from my shopping cart.

Free Resource #2

To see what a bad Crisis Communications Plan looks like, visit the resource page at CrisisCommunicationsPlans.com to download a copy of the Virginia Tech Crisis Communications Plan.

If your plan looks anything like this document, you need a new plan.

Free Resource #3

Because I had to head to the airport right after the presentation, I wanted you to be able to schedule a private phone call with me this week to ask any additional follow up questions or to discuss issues too sensitive to discuss during the presentation. My phone number is 985-624-9976 and my e-mail is gerard@braudcommunications.com Please e-mail me to schedule a call time during the week.

Free Resource #4

I’ve published numerous blog entries about Social Media and Crisis Communications. Here are a few links that you will find beneficial. More will follow in the next 2 weeks. You may wish to use the sign up box in the upper right corner to make sure you receive the next few articles.

Social Media for Crisis Communications: Effective Communications for Critical Times (Like When “It” Hits the Fan)

Social Media for Crisis Communications: Are You a Social Media Hypocrite?

Social Media for Crisis Communications: Social Media Relationships Before Your Crisis 

Social Media for Crisis Communications: The Social Media Listening Post in Crisis Communication 

Getting Ready to Get Ready to Get Started to Begin

Gerard braud blogby Gerard Braud

Corporate public relations moves too slow.

Not a day goes by that I don’t have a phone call with a public relations person who is telling me what they can’t do and why they can’t do it. This trend concerns me gravely.

I call this getting ready to get ready to get started to begin.

Wow. I would hate to live like that, which is why I don’t work within a corporation. Having been a corporate V.P., I can tell you such behavior was never allowed in my department. It was not allowed from those who reported to me, nor did I allow people to give me excuses on why we couldn’t do what needed to be done.

Granted, in any endeavor in life and business, I value the ready, aim, fire approach. However, each step should have a reasonable time limit. Strategic planning, for example, seems to just keep dragging on for so many public relations colleagues I speak to. They never find the target at which to aim and they are slow to fire. They are stuck in ready. Dare I say, many are getting ready to get ready to get started to begin.

Boldly, I’ll predict that 50% of all activities in corporations are a complete waste of time. What do you think? Ask yourself, “How long have we dragged out or waited for a strategic plan to be developed before we could make a move?” When all that strategic collaboration was completed, did you really learn anything significant that you didn’t know? Did you figure out anything that you couldn’t have strategized on your own – and in a shorter period of time?

How often has a project come to a halt because your company is going through reorganization? Did that reorganization make the organization better? Seldom does it get better, it just gets slower. Usually it is the equivalent of rearranging the proverbial chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

Are you operating in slow motion?

Are you letting your company keep you from doing what you know should be done?

Are you letting your company keep you from being the professional you should be?

Are you a floor mat for your corporation to wipe their feet on?

As a former news guy, I can tell you we moved at the speed of seconds. When a crisis hits, we’re on the story and we were on you. Meanwhile, PR people, and especially the corporate bosses, think you can move at your own good ol’ pace. They fall into decision paralysis, which I’ll define as making no decision at the fear of making the wrong decisions, which sadly, is always the wrong decision. They fall into paralysis by analysis, which means weighing too many factors that don’t need to be weighed. Meanwhile, your reputation and revenue are going to hell as detractors and the media take the organization to task.

Public relations people and corporate leaders can see a crisis on the horizon, yet they are slow in planning their response and they are slow to respond. Meanwhile, aggressive opponents are generating negative news about the organization, harming reputation and revenues.

And all that social media that you love in PR… it is often really bad for you in a crisis. It accentuates and escalates your crisis. Social media, in many cases, further damages your reputation and revenues. Why is it public relations people want to use it for good PR, yet ignore its potential negative effects in a crisis?

I challenge you: Pick one PR project and fast track it. When you get done, tell me how it feels. I expect to hear back from you in 24 hours.








How Public Relations People Judge Success: One Monumental Secret to Achieving More Success in the Coming Year

By Gerard Braud

Blog-ChristmasPublic relations and communication professionals on a global basis are experts at creativity. One cute, creative holiday letter I received spoke volumes about how public relations people judge success and the urgent need for public relations people to rethink their approach.

The card was a creative spoof of the dreaded “holiday letter” that so many families send out. You’ve probably received one. It brags about the achievement of their daughter in dance class, the son’s success in soccer, the mom’s new workout routine, dad’s job promotion and of course, photos of the family vacations to exotic lands.

The accomplishments in this spoof letter included how many tweets the communications team made, how many Facebook posts, how many “Likes,” the number of videos posted and viewed, the number of publications created, and the number of news releases written.

This is typical of how many public relations people judge success; they judge it based on tasks completed.

What is wrong with this approach?

Ask: What Do I Want These Tasks to Accomplish?

Success should be measured not in the quantity of tasks completed, but by the impact those tasks have on or for your institution and your audience. If you Tweet 1,000 times, post 1,000 times on Facebook and blog 360 times in a year, but you have no followers and no readers then you also have no impact. If you are blessed with followers and readers, you must ask, “Have my communications caused my audiences to behave the way I want them to?” For example, did your customers buy more products? Did you guide your employees to be more productive? At a hospital, did you change the health habits of your community? At an electric company, did you help your customers be more energy efficient?

A new year is always a time to set goals. You should consider setting goals as strategic objectives that are accomplished by the tactical actions you take. Public relations actions without meaningful results equals busy work.

Hence, I would have loved to see that cute, holiday card spoof again next year. Next year I hope it tells me about the successes achieved in terms of end results rather than tasks completed.

“I Cannot Tell A Lie” — If George Washington’s Quote Applied to Social Media and Public Relations

By Gerard Braud

georgewashingtonYet one more group of public relations and marketing professionals has asked me to speak at their PR & Marketing conference about the wonderful ways social media will allow them to connect and sell to their customers. I love to speak at conferences, but I cannot tell a lie, especially about social media and the return on investment (ROI) for companies.

I cannot tell you to use social media for positive ROI without talking about the negative ROI.

Too many PR and marketing professionals still mistakenly think social media is their magic bullet. The truth is, one size does NOT fit all. One company may get great ROI through social media while other companies will generate zero buzz or attraction.

The reality is, one should never talk about the positive side of social media for sales and marketing without talking about the negative effects of social media. It can destroy an organization’s reputation, which then negatively affects the revenues. Social media is a dangerous double-edged sword that cuts both ways. I’ve spoken at many conferences which focus too heavily on social media marketing, without full consideration of the “the big picture.”

Some organizations and brands are a perfect fit for social media. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Chobani Yogurt, which benefited from a huge love fest on social media from people who first discovered the product when it first appeared on store shelves a few years ago. Their following developed organically and the company benefited from the loyalty of their customers.

This might not be as true for a bank, hospital, electric company, oil company, etc.

One needs to consider the demographics of the social media audience. Chobani is a darling for the social media active 18 – 32 age group, especially among females.

facebook-like-buttonMeanwhile, many of my clients in the rural electric cooperative sector are in communities consisting of primarily older residents who are less active on social media and who are not constantly using their iPhones for calls, texting, and social media. Many are farmers and ranchers who are working the fields all day and not sitting in front of a computer, laptop, tablet or phone. Also, the rural residents who are young and active on social media don’t want to talk about, or follow, or “Like” their rural electric company, their bank, their hospital, or any of the other industries that don’t understand the true nature of social media.

Despite the success of Chobani on social media, when Chobani had a product recall recently, their brand got beat up by their detractors. Meanwhile, my rural electric co-ops, which get little traffic in good times, get a significant increase in traffic during their crisis events, especially when there is bad weather and a power outage.

In the world of social media, too much focus is on Facebook and Twitter, with not enough emphasis on YouTube and videos, which then requires photographic skills and trained spokespeople. In the world of social media, younger folks are leaving Facebook for Instagram and Pinterest. These forms of social media are even more difficult to use for ROI and sales for service industries, while it might be the best marketing for chic consumer brands. In the word of Twitter, only 16% of the population uses it, which makes it hard to use to reach customers, yet it is widely used by the media during a crisis.

Gerard Braud Audience 11In talking about social media one must be careful that young sales, PR & Marketing professionals who use social media daily, think the entire world is ready to embrace social media. The hypocrisy is that they want to market and sell their companies using social media, while the reality is that they have no personal desire to follow a bank, hospital or electric company on social media. A sales, marketing or PR person is doing a disservice to their organization to think they can significantly generate new customers and spread the world about new lines of business without recognizing that:

a) the demographics may not support their belief

b) the “sexiness” of the product may not support their beliefs

c) social media may have a greater negative impact on ROI than it has a positive impact on ROI.

The reality may be that they cannot justify the investment of their time in social media.

So… yes, I can customize a program for your conference if it is focused on all aspects of social media – the good, the bad and the ugly — but I cannot do a program that tells the audience social media is a rosy, wonderful world.

I cannot tell a lie.


Did Lululemon’s Crisis Communication Efforts on Social Media Create a Bigger Crisis?

By Gerard Braud

A bad media interview caused by insufficient media training is creating a crisis communication problem on social media. Experts will weigh in on this, but I don’t think any one expert has the answer as to the best way to handle this.

reax Lululemon FBI really want to know what you think.

The founder of Lululemon has posted a video to the company Facebook apologizing for comments he made in an interview on Bloomberg Television. Read the full details on my blog from last week.

As I write this, nearly 500 people have clicked “Like” on this particular Facebook post while more than 700 comments are posted. The vast majority of these comments are negative.

I have several crisis communication questions for you:

1) Do you think the founder, Chip Wilson, has made the situation better or worse by attempting to apologize on Facebook for comments he made on television?

2) Do you think the situation is getting better or worse on the Facebook brand page as the company’s public relations and social media teams try to engage in a conversation with those who post comments?

Without providing an answer to those questions, here is something to consider — Each time the public relations and social media team replies to a comment on the Facebook post, it moves the discussion higher in the news feed of the page followers, increasing the odds that someone new will jump into the conversation.

Was this a big mistake to take this discussion to Facebook?

Could this apology have found a better home in the company’s newsroom?

Was the apology itself poorly worded, leading to more negative comments?

Was the apology made only to employees and not to customers?

If the apology was to employees only, should it not have been posted where only employees would see it?

Could all of this crisis on the back end been eliminated by doing things differently on the front end?

As a father, I’ll tell you that my wife and I had a couple of basic rules when we were raising our two daughters. One rule was that you never have to fix the big things if you fix the little things. In this case, the lesson for all PR people, CEOs, and executive spokespeople, is to understand that the apology would never have been needed if the CEO had not said a foolish ad lib in the interview.  The foolishness would have been eliminated if executive media training had been done prior to the original interview.

I’m amazed on a daily basis at how under valued media training is among executives and public relations teams.

In every media training class that I teach, I challenge the CEO or spokesperson with this question, “If you could attach a dollar to every word that you say, would you make money or lose money?”

StopSpending LuluLemmon FBOf the more than 700 comments on the Lululemon Athletica Facebook page about this issue, many clearly say they will no longer buy the company’s product. Need I say more to prove my point? I think not.

In every crisis you should consider my “Crisis Rule of Thirds,” which states that one-third of the people love your company/brand, one-third will hate your company/brand, and the third in the middle will swing like a pendulum, based on what is popular at the moment.

In a social media crisis, in a world that is already filled with negative comments, I think many companies will lose the battle, lose the war, lose customers, and lose money.

Consider this: Delete the video, delete the Facebook post, and stop talking about it.

What do you think?

Experts in Crisis Communication Agree: Home Depot Tweet Gone Wrong: 5 Things Your Public Relations Team Should Do Right Now

HD TweetBy Gerard Braud

Experts in crisis communication know social media in corporate communications is highly likely to lead to a crisis. I would say more brands are likely to be harmed than helped by a social media brand page.

Home Depot leaders acted swiftly to fire an outside agency and an employee who posted a picture on Twitter that depicted two black drummers and a third drummer with a monkey mask, with the tweet, “Which drummer is not like the others?”

Good job Home Depot for acting swiftly. Good job Home Depot for terminating the agency and personnel who clearly don’t understand the need to think before Tweeting.

Immediately there were cries of racism. The drummers were beating on Home Depot plastic buckets and sitting in front of a promotional banner for Home Depot’s sponsorship of College Game Day.

To their credit, Home Depot used the same offending brand Twitter page to post an apology that said, “We have zero tolerance for anything so stupid and offensive. Deeply sorry. We terminated agency and individual who posted it.”

HD Appology tweetI love that in a world where lawyers don’t let public relations employees say “sorry,” that Home Depot uses the word “sorry.” I love that they use the word “stupid.” The tweet apology is well written and conveys the anger the company feels toward the offending agency and employee.

HD FacebookHome Depot uses a Facebook and YouTube brand page, but nothing is posted there relating to the Tweet. The Home Depot home page and Media Center also have no news releases or apologies.

From a crisis communication perspective, in this case I think I agree with the Home Depot public relations and crisis communication strategy to confine the crisis to only the offending branch of social media and not bring it over to Facebook or YouTube. However, now that the story is making headlines in newspapers and morning television, I think an apology in the corporate Media Center newsroom on their primary website would be in order. In fact, I would have put up a news release apology in the corporate site newsroom within minutes of issuing the apology tweet. By the way, in the crisis communication plan system that I suggest you have, such an apology would be pre-written and pre-approved on a clear sunny day… written months ago and waiting in the addendum of your crisis communication plan.

HD Homepage 2In a crisis, it is important to tell the story from your perspective and to own the search engine optimization (SEO) for your brand and your story. Posting in your corporate newsroom helps with this. Failure to do so sends anyone searching for information to other pontifications, reports and blogs… like this one.

What should you do in your brand?

1)  Review your social media policy and make it tough. The social media policies that we write at Braud Communications on behalf of our clients are brutally tough.


2)  Terminate those who post recklessly.


HD snarky tweets3) Pre-determine whether a social media crisis requires response on all social media channels or only the offending channel.


4) Pre-determine if your home page newsroom will be used for an apology. I think it should be used.


5) Consider establishing a rule that two to three internal eyes need to review every social media post before anyone hits send. Make sure those 2 to 3 people represent the cultural and age diversity of your audience. In the case of Home Depot, it was clear that the age or cultural background of the person who posted this tweet was such that it likely never crossed their mind that this tweet might be considered racist.

As crisis communication case studies go, I’ll say Home Depot is handling this one well.


LAX Airport Shooting – Crisis Communication Case Study Real Time

A shooting at the LAX Airport has the media scrambling to tell the story. The media are speculating with little or no official information. More than 90 minutes into the event I’ve not seen a spokesperson on CNN from the LAPD or from the LAX Airport.

From a crisis communication standpoint in the world of public relations, media relations and crisis communications we are watching bad PR unfold in real time. I encourage you to follow along with me.

Monitor CNN, LAX Facebook, LAX Twitter, the official LAX website, the LAPD website and the TSA website. As I monitor this story, a joint news conference has just started two hours and thirty minutes into this crisis. In 2013, that is too long of a time.

Watch my quick video and image that if you were a PR person in a crisis, you could shoot a post a short video with a first critical statement added as you will see at the end of this video.

Braud LAX Shooting














The LAX Twitter page is the only source of official information.

Twitter LAX














The LAX website has no news.

LAX website









The LAX Facebook page has a pumpkin from Halloween yesterday.

LAX Facebook










The LAPD website has no news.












The TSA website has no news.













In a crisis, every organization must have a well written crisis communication plan that would sort out all of this on a clear sunny day so that communications can happen in one hour or less of the onset of a crisis. This is Public Relations failure in action.

Here it is in the nation’s second largest media market and the media are left to speculate and do phone calls with eyewitnesses.

Likely, right now, in a room somewhere, executives are managing the crisis and are too busy to approve a news release. The PR team is likely working from scratch to get the news release written and executives are trying to rewrite it. Meanwhile, a pre-written news release for this event should have been written years ago and put in a pre-written news release file.

Somedays I wonder when the PR profession will “get it.” This is one more example that they don’t.

The Tricks & Treats of Facebook in a Crisis

By Gerard Braud


Click image to watch video

Is Facebook your friend or foe in a crisis? The frightening truth is it really depends on a lot of factors.

(Don’t be afraid to look at Facebook in an all new light when you join us for this special Halloween webinar.)

Let us start with a discussion about your brand page. Do you have one? There are three schools of thought when it comes organizational brand pages.

First, many organizations don’t have one because the leaders within the organization are afraid too many people will say nasty things on the page. Secondly, some organizations have brand pages set up by excitable communicators or marketers who think Facebook is the best invention since sliced bread (or pumpkin pie).  The reality is your organization may not be the kind of place the average person wants to “Like” and read about in their Facebook newsfeed. I personally have no desire to follow my bank, hospital or electric company. Thirdly, there are organizations — especially in the realm of fun consumer brands — that people “Like” to have in their newsfeed and love to engage with.

Regardless of which of the three categories applies to you, when a crisis happens, Facebook sometimes becomes one of your best communications outlet for getting actionable information to key audiences. But here is the scary part — It can also be a place where the world gangs up on you because of how you are communicating during the crisis.

Let us look at three types of crises and how they played out on Facebook, and what you should do to be prepared in a similar situation.

The most frightening thing I’ve observed this year was the use of Facebook by individuals who quickly set up a Facebook page and publish more information about your crisis than your organization is publishing on all of your communications channels.

WilliamsOlefinsOn the morning of June 13, 2013 there was a tragic explosion and fire at the Williams Olefins Chemical plant in Geismar, LA, about 50 miles from my home, which killed 2 workers and injured 114 more. Before the company had a single news release issued, or before they provided any images or videos posted to the web, either community members or employees published a Facebook page with more details than the company ever gave.

GeismarThe owner of this “Fan” page has not responded to my requests for an interview. A friend who works for Williams had told me long ago that the company does not allow the communications department to use any of the advanced crisis communications procedures that I recommend. Instead, their corporate bosses subscribe to FEMA’s National Incident Management System (NIMS) which relegates the task of communicating details about the crisis to the Louisiana State Police.

I personally hate NIMS. A state trooper can only communicate response details. The trooper isn’t able to communicate empathy to the community, nor is there anything about NIMS that meets the needs of employees who know people who have been personally affected. Furthermore, NIMS provides no social media presence.

For the record, my crisis communications plans dictate that the company in crisis must communicate with the outside world within one hour or less of the onset of the crisis. My priorities in such an event would be as follows:

1) Use a modified, pre-written news release template from my crisis communications plan, as my script for a live news conference with all media who have gathered at the scene of the explosion.

2) Post the identical pre-written news release to the corporate website.

3) Send an e-mail to all employees, media and stakeholders, with the identical information in text and with a link to the company website.

4) Create a short YouTube video with the identical information.

5) Post a link on Facebook with a link to the website and the video.

6) Post a link to Twitter with a link to the website and the video.

7) Add photos and videos to the corporate website and to Facebook as the event continues to unfold.

Throughout your crisis, your official website is the most secure location for official information. Social media can be used, but must be monitored and facilitated to handle comments. Using social media requires you to have ample staff.

In this case study of the Williams Company, eye witnesses did a better job of providing information than the company and the state police.

Don’t let a similar situation be your demise.

Next, consider scary weather and Facebook. In many weather events, the electricity goes out and people are displaced from their homes. When the lights are on and people are at home, they tend to migrate to Google on their computer for information about a crisis. But when the lights are out and people may not be home, they generally turn to their mobile phone and Facebook becomes a big player.

Likewise, if you are trying to function in an official capacity without electricity and you have difficulty accessing your corporate website, Facebook becomes a great communications option for you, because you can access and update it via your smart phone.

Weather events also become a time when a brand page is really needed and all the more reason to set one up on a clear sunny day, even though you might not usually attract many “Likes” during normal times. Trust me, your “Likes” will go up exponentially during the crisis.

This year we’ve had serious forest fires, floods, deadly tornadoes and pre-season snow storms. In every case, organizations have seen their Facebook followers spike. A quick way to see proof is to visit a Facebook page of an electric company in a region affected by a natural disaster. On the “about” link you can access the analytics that allow you to view the spike in “Likes” during the crisis.

Furthermore, in a weather event, your organization may be a small part of a big story, fighting with bigger players for media attention. Facebook circumvents the media and allows you to take details straight to your primary audience.

Finally, consider that some scary events can quickly turn your Facebook page into a bitching page, especially if the synical audience on social media thinks some aspect of your crisis has been handled poorly.  A good example is a shooting at Middle Tennessee State University on February 14, 2011.

MTSUshootingWhen a gunman was reported, the University used their text message system to alert students of the potential danger. But prior to the crisis, the University apparently did not do a good enough job of managing the expectations of the student body to make them aware that mass texting systems often take 20 – 30 minutes before everyone gets their alert message. This is the kind of thing that must be managed on a clear sunny day with proper information and a test text, rather than creating a crisis within a crisis on the day of your crisis.

During the Middle Tennessee crisis, the University’s Facebook page lit up, with more comments about slow text alerts than there were comments about the event.

So upon further consideration, is Facebook your friend or foe in a crisis?

There are some scary things happening on Facebook during crises and you can’t afford to get tricked by them. Take steps today to be prepared.

Learn more by signing up today for this special Halloween Webinar.