Ft. Hood Lessons on Social Media
As we learned of the horrific events at Ft. Hood, we witnessed the convergence of old and new media, traditional and emerging communication tactics paint the picture of the Army base on that day. A pair of communications lessons stands out.
1. Everyone is a potential communicator. Whether it's a front-line staffer with a Twitter account or a manager dashing off instant messages, the tools are out there to turn anyone into a communicator. The mere thought of it is enough to make any corporate communications leader shudder, but it's nonetheless true.
2. A blended approach works best. Twitter updates provided the immediacy of breaking news – and nothing that a credible news organization should hang a story on – but they served a short-term purpose leading up to the press conference. It was then that we heard the detail.
Keep these lessons in mind if your organization goes through a merger, a bankruptcy, a layoff or other enterprise-wide change. No matter how tightly you control the timing of your announcement, some employees will get the news from the Web or via an email from a coworker. Still, you can send out an announcement of your own via email to provide immediacy – breaking the news, so to speak – and then follow up with an all-hands meeting or team huddle.
Anymore, when audiences flip from channel to channel and Web site to Web site, a single channel of information can't be relied on for the complete story. The same goes for organizations.