Crisis communication is one public relations activity that is rarely implemented but always important to have in place. When a product fails, an outbreak occurs, financial crisis arises or whatever the case may be, crisis communication plans keep the peace and give direction in a time of chaos.
During major situations, crisis communication relies heavily on outsourcing PR professionals to man multiple phone lines and computers to address all questions and concerns. Now with the new wave of technology and social media, crisis communication could become less of a cost to outsource.
Using Twitter to communicate in real time while using Twitpics to show live footage of a situation allows public access in light speed. Media has the opportunity to log on to Twitter and cover a live stream of information from the source. With the addition of public replies and direct messages, journalists can ask any of their questions – in less than 140 characters, of course.
“Thanks to the Internet and social media applications, such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter, the public is able to seek and share information quickly during a health or safety crisis,” said Keri Stephens, assistant professor of communication studies at The University of Texas at Austin.
“Emotions are high during a crisis and people find comfort in information—regardless of the quality of that information,” said Stephens. “The swine flu situation was an example of this. Thousands of people turned to Twitter to query each other and share news of the latest developments in Mexico and the U.S. Twitter status updates ranged from ‘Could it be germ warfare?’ to ‘Don’t eat pork from Mexico.’ Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a good job of communicating quickly and clearly.”
With the use of iPhones and Blackberry phones, public relations professionals can be anywhere at anytime covering any situation and sharing it with their audiences simultaneously in a concise manner. Media consumers are so sick of biased journalists with added fluff. People are yearning for those 140-character messages and turning away from print and broadcast media.