iReports for Public Relations and Crisis Communications: Why Your Company or Government Organization Should Create a CNN iReport Account Today

By Gerard Braud

{Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 iReporters. This is part of a series of articles about how you can be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.}

IReport Voting pageAs you read this, please be so kind as to also click this link to vote for me as CNN’s iReporter of the Year…  I’m one of 36 finalists and your 30 seconds of support is greatly appreciated.

Here is something you’ve likely never been told to do — start a corporate, business, or government CNN iReport account as part of your crisis communication plan.

Why? Just as you might use YouTube and your social media brand pages as part of your crisis communication strategy, you can use CNN iReports. With iReports, you get an accelerated path to the premier cable news network in the world.

Not every crisis warrants shooting a video and posting it to the web, and especially not to CNN iReports. However, if your crisis event is big enough that the media will show up to cover the event, then your crisis is big enough for you to shoot a short video and upload it to iReports.

The account is easy to set up. Visit and follow the instructions. You’ll need a traditional e-mail address and password, just as you have for any of your social media accounts. You’ll be asked to post a photo of yourself and create a bio. It is important that you list your phone number and any way that CNN might contact you about one of your videos.

CNN Ireport AccountSome corporate leaders or government officials might object to this strategy of having an iReport account. Here is the reality about your possible crisis — if a crisis occurs, there is a strong chance that someone with a smart phone will photograph and/or videotape your event. They may share it on social media and send it to either your local media or CNN iReport. This means that during your crisis, you can either have your story told by an eyewitness, who may speculate and spread rumors, or you can post a report with better pictures, better video, and credible facts. Given the choice, you should choose the option that gives you the greatest control over the flow of accurate information.

All day and night, CNN has a team of producers monitoring all of the videos that get posted to their website. A selected group of videos get “vetted” by the CNN producers, which is essentially a stamp of authentication or endorsement that a given video is worthy of stronger consideration by web viewers.

The iReport vetting team then notifies the producers of the CNN news programs when they see a video that might be worthy of being put on the air. Sometimes the live programs will run just video or still pictures from the event. Other times they will run all or a portion of the narration that might be on the video. On numerous occasions, CNN has run my video with my short narration. Then they take it a step further and contact me by e-mail or phone call to ask me to do a live report.

In each instance, I was acting as a citizen observing an event, but I could have just as easily done the same thing if I had been serving as a corporate spokesperson or if I was a Public Information Officer (PIO) for a government agency or for state, county or city government. This would also be very useful for Emergency Managers.

If your local media offer options for uploading pictures and videos, you should create an account using their website as well. All of this should be done on a clear sunny day, because you don’t want to try to rush through this on your darkest day when you are in the middle of a crisis.

Don’t put it off. Stop now and set up your CNN iReport account. While you are there, take a look at my videos that have been nominated as some of the top CNN videos of the year… and of course thank you for taking a moment to click on vote for me in the In-Depth Storytelling Community Choice award.

In our next article, we’ll look at the technology you need to effectively be an iReporter.

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  1. […] This means you need to be prepared to provide the media with your own newsworthy images and video as soon as […]

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