My small, woman-owned public relations/marketing firm, Advice Unlimited, has been serving the Federal government marketplace for nearly 30 years to help companies with innovative technology get their solutions to the government. Every month, I’ll offer unlimited advice on how to work with this unique market. Please email me with questions or comments.

Advice Unlimited

Advice Unlimited

Friday, November 20, 2009

Leveraging Social Media in Crisis Communications

There’s a lot of buzz around social media these days – why is this such a popular topic? Not just because it’s new; I think it’s also because it’s a great way to communicate quickly with a broad audience. What is this really good for? Communicating in a crisis.
If there’s a natural disaster, if there’s a pandemic or food contamination, if there’s a horrible crime spree or terrorist attack – a driving force is to calm the public and provide guidance on appropriate activity to keep everyone as safe as possible. In addition to the tremendous challenge of assessing the situation and crafting this crucial message, delivery of this message to the broadest amount of people as quickly as possible has always been a daunting task. Harnessing the power of social media can help tremendously.
Now is the time to update your organization’s crisis communications plan, and include a section on social media. What social media activities has your organization implemented for standard operating procedure? How do you leverage these tools in a crisis? Who has jurisdiction, what are the processes needed to ensure messages from the right source can be disseminated through the right tools speedily and appropriately? What processes are in place to get feedback, answer the public’s questions and concerns, and encourage and manage an effective dialog?
Spending the time now to review the how, what, why, where, and who of using these tools is time well spent, to help ensure your organization is ready to roll out an effective crisis communications effort when needed, using all of today’s new tools and advantages.

Sandy Evans Levine is president of Advice Unlimited, a public relations/marketing firm that works with high tech companies who sell to the government, and with the government directly. Ms. Levine holds Top Secret clearance within the Intelligence Community. Founding Advice Unlimited in 1983, Ms. Levine, formerly a journalist, and her team of media relations experts have extensive experience in media crisis management and crisis communications for companies and government organizations, and work extensively with social media for public outreach and education. She brings an organized approach to dealing with problem situations, focusing on the ability to calm fears, reassure the public, and protect sensitive sources and methods. . For more information visit or email

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