Here’s a crisis communications lesson from yesterday’s East Coast earthquake – if your crisis PR plan relies on using a telephone or cell phone, you had better insert an alternative method for reaching out to people.
As Gus Sentementes reported in today’s edition of The Baltimore Sun, “As Marylanders reached for their cell phones to communicate with their friends and family, they found it easier to get peace of mind through text messages, emails and Facebook updates than through calls.”
That’s because just about everyone has a cell phone in their pocket – and the first thing they do in an emergency is call family and friends, so the phone system cannot handle such a high volume of calls. To actually work, your crisis communications plan needs to rely on other means to get the word out – tweets, texts and Facebook updates.
As we counsel clients, now is the time to set up those social networking accounts and the related policy and protocol – not during an emergency! [Gus’s photo sent via Twitter, left, shows an evacuated Sun staff yesterday after the earthquake shook up the building.]