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Twitter During a Crisis: Tips from Boston Marathon

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This week marks one year since the horrendous marathon bombings that encapsulated Boston. The news of the blasts and the manhunt that followed were dominating Twitter as the news was uncovered. Within seconds of the first blast, information on social media spread like wildfire; which has proven that social media platforms like Twitter are a predominate venue for quickly spreading news information during a crisis.  PR firms are equipped with crisis communication plans but, as we know,  not all crises are the same. Here are some tips that we learned from the Boston Marathon Bombings  for using Twitter during a crisis.

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1. All employees involved in the social media component of the crisis communication plan must be trained to handle the technology (social media apps on smartphones, tablets, etc.) and manage messages relevant to the audience and situation.

2. Interaction between the organization and audience might be limited during a crisis because of the immediacy in posting messages, however, having an employee monitor comments posted by the public to gauge concerns is important.

3. If your business has nothing to do with the crisis at hand, be quiet. Is anyone really paying attention, anyway?

4. Consider taking a few days off from your normal editorial calendar. You want to be empathetic and stop promoting your product during a crisis.

5. Be alert and up to date on current news.

The power of Twitter was evident a year ago with many tweeting real-time, up-to-date information on the Boston Marathon Bombings and is active this week for the anniversary of the event. With the hashtag #BostonStrong which has been mentioned more than 2.3 million times since the event, the crisis has been overcome but is not forgotten.


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Twitter has proven to be a leader in real-time news generation with information being posted by professionals, organizations and individuals alike. It is important to remember that although technology has enabled us to act quickly on information sharing, we must still act with heart and compassion.

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