Last week I was on a panel, “Crisis Communication in a Social Media World,” with CNN political commentator Maria Cardona and The Washington Post‘s James Buck. Cardona, also a principal with the Dewey Square Group, provided insights into political scandals and the need to be prepared to move quickly with social media as a key part of your crisis PR plan. Since former Congressman Anthony Weiner is “old news” in the Twitter world, we focused on the Herman Cain controversy and the impact of social media.
Buck talked about how the Post uses social media in its reporting, including live-tweeting meetings and events and verifying sources via Twitter by looking at Klout scores and level of engagement among other factors. Buck has first-hand experience with the power of social media. While covering protests in Egypt in 2008 he was detained by Egyptian authorities and placed in a vehicle that was to take him to a prison. In the back seat, he tweeted one word – “arrested” – which triggered a response that eventually led to his release. Twitter’s founders use this as an example of how one word tweeted to a handful of followers can have a big impact.
Still think social media is for following Justin Bieber or Snooki? It’s so much more, and you need to have a plan and tools in place – before the crisis hits.