Crisis Communications Impacted by Technology

When it comes to handling a crisis today, it’s a whole new world.

Julie Rodriguez, public information manager of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, shared at the National Federation of Press Women 2012 Communications Conference how the world has changed technologically and how those changes impact news.

When she started in the business, press releases were still faxed to reporters. Today communications is instant and includes tools such as email, websites, 24-hour media texts, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, blogs, apps and direct email lists.

“When something starts happening we immediately go to Facebook and Twitter,” said Rodriguez. “The reporters follow us.”

It’s also how news gets out. “We hear about something. We see it on Twitter. We see the photos posted on Twitter. We see it on CNN,” she said. “That’s the progression.”

Rodriguez added, “I love social media, especially Facebook. We can have a conversation.”

When a crisis happens, Rodriguez says it’s important to follow a timeline that includes:

  • Fact finding
  • Communicating with all agencies and business partners involved
  • Returning media calls
  • In-person media briefings

Beginning with the fact finding ensures that you have the needed information or have identified what you still need before speaking to the media. It’s then important to communicate with partners, Rodriguez said.

“We have to stay in our lane,” Rodriguez said. “We can’t share information that is out of our area of control or authority.”

She and her staff, though, will assist reporters in finding the person who can give them the necessary information.

Once you have done these two steps you can return media calls, post to social media and send group emails. Then, she said, schedule in-person media briefings.

Following these steps and using the new technology, Rodriguez, said will help you dispel inaccurate rumors and enable you to quickly contact news outlets.

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