Public relations companies and communications consultants are often faced with moral dilemmas.In the aftermath of a tragedy such as the Boston Marathon bombings in the US, the question is asked – what role can social media play? We live in a world of immediacy – information is often shared within seconds of an event occurring. While this can be useful it can also pose great risks to safety and security. How do we manoeuvre in a situation such as Boston when social media is inundated with information, images etc.?
- Ensure that your information is coming from a credible source to avoid misinformation, panic or confusion. For e.g. the Boston Police Department has been very proactive in posting social media updates (https://twitter.com/boston_
- When used effectively, social media can be a way of providing necessary help. For e.g. Sydney Corcoran, and her mother were badly injured during the Boston Marathon incident. A crowdfunding campaign was started by someone anxious to help and promoted via Facebook and Twitter (http://www.forbes.com/sites/
devinthorpe/2013/04/17/ crowdfunding-for-boston- marathon-bombing-victims- demonstrates-outpouring-of- support-from-around-the-world/ )
- Social media does have a crucial role to play in the aftermath of a disaster. However, it must be used with caution and care
- Follow the advice of law enforcement officials and, where possible, utilise your social media network. For e.g. In Boston, when the FBI released the images of the suspects, it was crucial to reach as many people as possible in a short space of time