I’ve encountered a digital divide of sorts this week — a big one for Facebook with the announcement of Facebook’s Like, a tool for connecting all Web pages to the social networking platform.
On the one hand, I’ve connected with those who see the vast potential of Facebook. They jumped at the opportunity to add Facebook Like to their blog or website. One even e-mailed me the code for incorporating the feature into the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services website. (I’ve probably read 25 articles about Like in two days to gain a better understanding. It takes a lot of information for me sometimes!)
On the other, there are those who don’t use Facebook, but make key decisions regarding their organization’s use of it. A PR contact wondered what to do because a top exec wanted to delete the organization’s Facebook page after seeing “inappropriate” photos on a fan’s personal page. I responded that it’s not the organization who is posting these photos; it’s the fan’s personal page. My wife suggested that Facebook may have a feature for hiding fans, or friends, or whatever the latest term may be. All three of us wondered who has the time to snoop at all of their page’s fans’ personal photos anyway.
I’m connected with so many people who have made Facebook a part of their daily routine that I forget that lots of folks don’t like it — mainly because of privacy concerns and time constraints.
I have to keep this in mind while preparing for talks such as those I’ll give soon to groups such as government Information Systems leaders from across Ohio and the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors Association.
I’ll be talking with people who could spend a lunchtime conversing about Facebook Like — and those who could occupy an hour asking questions about how to do a status update or comment on one.
To cover my bases, I created a handout with a paragraph describing each of the major social networking platforms on one side. The other gives the latest statistics showing how many people use them — and the tremendous growth of the past several years.
I hope they like it!
What has been your experience with the Facebook digital divide? Any thoughts on this topic?
As I heard three public relations professionals share their experiences with crisis communication at a Cincinnati PRSA luncheon this week, a slogan from the Boy Scouts popped into my head: Be Prepared!
Debra DeCourcy of Fifth Third Bank, Meghan Glynn of Kroger and Rick Miller (PR pro with decades of agency experience) told about handling everything from bank bailouts to jet crashes to immigration raids.
Although my work has primarily involved projects and campaigns, I could relate. At times, I’ve been thrust into crisis situations ranging from a city councilman being involved in a child abuse case to a controversial contract revocation that sparked charges of racism.
Calls came in from TV, radio and print reporters on tight deadlines. Internal crisis team meetings were held to gather facts, craft messages, determine spokespersons… In one situation, the “meeting” took place during frantic phone calls on a Sunday. I soon found myself on camera with my wife and daughter nearby waiting to go on a family outing.
At those moments, I was really grateful that our organization had a crisis communication process in place. We didn’t really have to rehearse it because the nature of our business — large government social services agency with huge programs, including child protection — lends itself to crisis situations. I also was glad to be able to recall how other PRSA members had successfully handled their crisis situations.
At this week’s luncheon, all three speakers spoke about the importance of already having build good relationships with the media. They had built an atmosphere of trust and respect — relationships strong enough to allow for give-and-take at critical junctures. They could question a journalist’s “facts” and supply relevant information that would allow for a fair report.
They also spoke about that feeling that the whole world is watching your organization get hammered in the press — that warped perspective that your problems are bigger than everyone else’s, that everyone is talking about you, when — in reality — you are just one of the headlines. You’re just hyper-aware of the situation.
They talked about getting moral support from family, colleagues and others. One even calls her college professors, years after graduating from school.
They stressed the importance of keeping your calm — of not blurting out what would make you feel good, but would make your organization look bad.
They shared tips such as having a dark suit in a closet at work for those inevitable casual Fridays when a crisis flares up — and making backup babysitting plans in advance, so you’re not scrambling to have somebody watch the kids when you need to manage the crisis at hand.
The spoke about the importance of communicating with employees, so they don’t rely on the media filter as their sole source of information.
Hopefully, you gleaned some helpful ideas from these thoughts and experiences. You can also visit the @CincinnatiPRSA and @MikeBoehmer Twitter streams from April 14 at noon for more notes.
I would love to hear your experiences with crisis communications in the comments section. We can all learn from each other. It will help us Be Prepared and (another Boy Scout slogan) Do a Good Turn Daily!
Hope you got something out of the notes that I live-blogged from Wednesday’s BlogWell Cincinnati — an afternoon packed with 25-minute presentations/Q&A’s with those responsible for social media at some of the world’s most-recongized brands.
It was so cool hearing first-hand from people who — like me — spend a good portion of their work days connecting with key audiences via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WordPress and the like. I could really relate to the guy from Tyson who talked about having his laptop open at night in the TV room and pecking away at his iPhone (for me, a Droid) in spare moments!!!
It was affirming for me to learn that social media pros at Hilton, Tyson, Duke Energy and Dell encounter the same opportunities and challenges that I do at the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services.
And we’ve come up with come common solutions.
For one, you need to have a strategy — a written roadmap based on research that includes measurable objectives. This helps you educate internal decision-makers and justify the time you devote to tweeting, posting, friending, RT’ing…
Second, you must change your daily work routines to open up time to engage your audiences. It’s vital to respond quickly to customer concerns/complaints. It’s equally important to thank those who retweet your messages, post positive comments on Facebook or YouTube, offer ideas via blog comments… Presenters shared time-management techniques and prioritization tips that allow them to cultivate their social media gardens.
Third, you can’t be afraid to innovate and test your ideas. We’re still in the pioneering period of this vast frontier. There are countless creative ideas for humanizing your organization and building trust with those who count. Don’t over-think things. Take action. Monitor/measure. Adjust.
I’m still absorbing all that was shared in the info-packed afternoon. If you were there, I would love to hear your top-of-mind thoughts. If not, any comments on what I said above or blogged a few days ago would be greatly appreciated!
Social media: We’re all in this together.