May 4, 2007 – UPDATE: Mike Dame, director of web communication at Virginia Tech will present a webinar on June 28, 2007 to share his lessons learned after the tragedy as part of a 3-webinar series called “Crisis Communication 2.0 Week” and priced at $250 ($100 of which will be donated to the Memorial Hokie Spirit Fund of Virginia Tech). For more information or to register, visit the registration page.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I co-presented a session about crisis communication in a networked world at a CASE conference last September with Joe Hice, AVP for Marketing & Public Relations at the University of Florida.
Earlier this morning, Joe shared via email some thoughts about what happened as well as a few lessons learned less than 24 hours after the tragedy happened at Virginia Tech. I’m publishing them for all to read with Joe’s permission.
- When a crisis occurs, immediately drop all images, flash, video, from your web site. The VT homepage crashed around 10 a.m. because of traffic. They went to an almost text-only page very early on and it still was difficult to get to the homepage for information.
- Post statements in print only first. Again, VT was trying to provide as much information as possible and they posted podcasts from their president. A great idea, but with the volume of traffic, I believe the bandwidth required dramatically slowed access to the site.
- Use an alternative source or site to distribute key information. Again, recognizing that their system couldn’t handle the load, VT worked with the Virginia State Police to post key messages and information on the VSP site initially.
- Blogs are critical and I’m not sure how to deal with them. A blogger named “Bryce” was posting within hours after the shooting. Three hours after the shootings he was blaming the University for not providing adequate security and not “locking down” campus. Technorati found 40,315 blogs on the tragedy by 5 p.m. yesterday.
- Media will monitor Blogs and reach out to bloggers. Bryce was contacted by Canadian Broadcasting Corp and MTV via his blog and asked for interviews. I don’t know if he agreed, but the traditional media was using the blogs as a key source/resource. [Karine’s note: reporters from The Boston Herald and the AP Television in Washington also contacted Bryce by posting comments to his blog]
- VT acted quickly to schedule a “convocation” of parents and concerned citizens for this afternoon. I’m not sure how they reached out immediately, but it was effective and thoughtful.
- Facebook ruled with students. Thousands of groups have popped up and the volume of traffic was/is amazing.
- Blogs, Facebook, My Space all feature photo pages, video pages, audio recordings in “real time.” The citizen journalist has indeed arrived.
What do you think?