Are people trending from newsstands to Twitter, or is Twitter itself becoming a newsstand? This may be splitting hairs; something of both is occurring. The important thing is that Twitter is a ready outlet for emergency information, or material that's important for managing communities well. Some organizations don't understand Twitter's "newsstand" role; a chamber of commerce we used to belong to comes to mind.
Los Angeles, by contrast, gets it. The Los Angeles Emergency Management Department (EMD) now has more than 1,000 followers on its Twitter site. "The EMD uses Twitter to post official city bulletins and advisories about emergencies, significant events and disasters that affect residents," says the LA COPE agency. Moreover, "The account is 'verified' by Twitter, a distinction Twitter carefully dispenses to establish authenticity so users can trust that a legitimate source is authoring the tweets."
Considering how easy it is to set up a Twitter account (though a "verification" feature is likely more involved), communities everywhere ought to be creating Twitter "newsstands" to be getting the word out to residents, business owners and travelers practically in real time when emergencies occur. Or, simply, when there's "hot" or helpful news to report.
Social media, we're learning, can become the means of closer relationships with constituents when information most matters. This is a crisis communication strategy that represents the best form of public relations, a pro active one. Consider the value of a "Twitter newsstand" for your community or organization.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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