Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You're Not the Only One Struggling with Social Media

Either you are watching all the activity and trends in social media or you, well, you are sticking your head in the sand. There is no doubt that social media (really just a way of describing how people are using the internet to connect with each other and get info) is dramatically changing our lives in multiple ways including how we do business with each other, work together, and communicate with the public. But, if you are having a hard time trying to figure it all out and make sense of it, particularly what it means to doing your job tomorrow, you are not the only one.

Here's a great summary on how our government and Members of Congress in particular are struggling with keeping up with the changes. There are many other sources where you can find how government is using technology including social media. One good twitter source I've found is

But there are strong hints all around about what all this means, particularly for those of us in emergency and crisis communications. One is: Go Direct. No need to mess with the middleman--the media. (How appropriate they should be called the media--a medium, like a channeler. Why go through the medium when you can talk direct to the ghost or intended audience?) Here's a blog post about writing press releases, but in the middle of the writer makes this point:

"While there is still value in the press release as a PR or online marketing tactic, there are more effective options for communicating with external audiences. For starters, your blog should be the new place you break news. Look at how organizations like Google or Twitter announce new products or major company announcements – they post to their blogs. Google doesn’t formally issue any press releases. They don’t need to, their audiences subscribe to their blogs.

Blogs are very effective platforms for announcing your news, because they come with built-in analytics and sharing capabilities most traditional news releases don’t (at least not for free). Once you post to your blog, people can easily link to, share, or comment on your post instantly. This is the fastest option for getting your announcement into the hands of people most likely to pass the word along. You’ll also have access to real-time information on your reach through any standard Web analytics package, such as Google analytics."

You don't have to worry about blogging during a crisis event but you do have to have an event-specific website or a Joint Information Center site and you do need to post up to date information very frequently on that which is what blogging is. The point is, why not go direct to your audiences? They want you to and the more you think about the quality of coverage you may have experienced in the past, the more sense it will make to you as well. The good news is social media makes that option not only more viable, but a virtual requirement.

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