Six Communication & PR Tips for Managing a Twitterquake

Consider the following communication and PR tips to prepare your organization, business or brand for the next Twitterquake.  

  1. Be Prepared. Ensure that multiple communicators in your office have access to your official Twitter and Facebook accounts. If social media isn’t part of your crisis communication plans, it needs to be.
  2. Link Up & Listen. Double check your primary social media channels, like Twitter and Facebook, are connected so that you can make updates in just one place. Listen to your followers or fans to see what’s on their minds. Use their questions and concerns to shape your communications and messaging.
  3. Share What You Can. During a crisis situation, whether it’s an earthquake or a more localized event, share what you can specific to your organization, business or cause. In breaking news stories or situations, no one has all of the information. Ensure that your communications, PR, marketing and legal teams are tightly aligned and physically together, if possible, to ensure consistency of messaging.
  4. Give Good Content. Whether you can share a picture on Twitter or first-person insights, remember the fundamental news values in deciding on what you share. Even though you might just have 140 characters, make sure to attribute sources, when possible.
  5. Terms like “allegedly” and “reportedly” give you some buffer. Don’t let the speed of information interfere with the accuracy of your information.
  6. Remember anything that you share has the potential to be retweeted, shared or broadcast. Here is an example of what I mean by good content. 
  7. Kudos to @AndyJenksNBC12 and @PhotogDwight of WWBT-TV for being among the first Richmond, Va., journalists on the scene in Mineral and using the equivalnet of Tweetpics via Lockerz to show some of the minor damage. Check out Jenks' mobile gallery shot on his Droid.
  8. Review, Learn & Tweak. Unless you’re an organization like @JetBlue with a large social media team (relatively speaking), you probably don’t have folks on social media duty 24-7. Heck, @JetBlue doesn’t either, I think they call it a day around 11 p.m. 
  9. If you’re in a communications role, use yesterday’s earthquake as an opportunity to tweak how your organization uses social media in times of crisis. What worked well? What didn’t?How can your team improve?
  10. Keep your Apple, but don’t forget the ’berry.
  11. Thanks to RIM’s Blackberry Messenger, I learned about 2:30 p.m. yesterday that my wife and business partner, Michele, was safe on a video shoot.  This same service worked after the 2010 Chilean earthquake and immediately after 9/11 — reportedly BBM was the only wireless service functioning properly. Lately, BBM has come under scrutiny as a communication tool allegedly used by rioters in London.
  12. BBM has a reputation for being reliable and secure as it can run on either a phone’s data connection or local Wi-fi. It might be why President Obama is such a fan of the ’berry.
  13. Regardless, the post-earthquake “intermittent mass-calling event” (as described by a Sprint spokesperson) is rare, but it reassured me that if you’re serious about communicating in times of a crisis, you might want to rethink getting a Blackberry or even a pair of 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radios.
  14. Just make sure your devices are charged.

Jonathan Rhudy is glad that an “intermittent mass-calling event” isn't something we see often.