Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter

Helping Managers Lead Better in Crisis

August 2011

In This Issue
White Paper
Video: Social Media Policy
Professional Development
Life Balance
From the Bookshelf
Speaking Engagements

Social Media Policy


Harnessing a Runaway Horse

The recent riots in England have demonstrated both the good and the bad side of social media. On the one hand, you have the rioters who used social media to coordinate illegal activities. On the other, you see an example of how communities can use social media to coordinate efforts at recovery. (See my recent blog, Social media and recovery: the London riots.)


Social media is an ever-expanding tool, full of possibilities. In each recent disaster, we have seen the emergence of new and creative uses for social media and an increasing empowerment of communities to play a significant role in response and recovery. The old myth that people in disasters can't look out for themselves may finally be dying.


But with change comes risks. We are seeing the emergence of some interesting legal problems associated with social media, pertaining primarily to privacy issues, copyright infringement, defamation and loss of intellectual property.


How then can an organization or government protect itself and still make use of social media? The starting point is the crafting of social media policy.



Social Media Policy 

Social Media Policy
Social Media Policy

This is video was developed by the Department of Justice in Victoria Australia to explain the highlights of the department's social media policy to employees. You can find the written policy on the department's website .

Quick Links
My Website

My Blog  
Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
Newsletter Archive
Find me on Facebook

View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter
Join My Mailing List

Welcome to the August issue of Emergency Management Solutions.


This month's issue is devoted to the subject of social media policy. In discussions with many of my colleagues I've noted that while many want to use social media, they're unsure how to do so. Others are afraid because social media represents unknown risks. Developing a good social media policy is a good first step and there are quite a few resources out there to help.


If you are having trouble viewing the white paper, try clicking on the link at the top of the page. Alternatively, you can always find my white paper on my blog site, Canton on Emergency Management.
Lucien Canton

Professional Development 


This month's column is by John Streeb, a graduate student in emergency management and Homeland Security at Arkansas Tech University. John addresses one of the main concerns I've heard about social media - it's vulnerability to hacking - and puts it in persepective.


Hacking, like social media, is not a new concept; it's just a new format.  People have always interacted at a personal level when faced with challenging situations.  Now it is more and more via text-messaging and social media. 


There have been people in prior disasters that have gone door to door passing out fliers saying FEMA or the State of Emergency Management Office recommends using their company for your home repairs.  When we found out people were putting out false information we would spend some serious time and effort sending out press releases reassuring the public to correct this misinformation. These door to door scams can be very time consuming and labor intensive to actually track down and shut down though. 


If someone were to falsify your endorsement you'd have to very nearly go door to door searching for the culprits and apologizing to the public and asking them to not believe the scam.  When someone hacked an official account at Fox News the Twitter feed was able to be suspended very quickly.  Fox was able to use the exact same delivery mechanism to ensure that a response message, e.g." Please disregard the previous XYZ statement as we were hacked, etc...," was delivered to the exact same people who received the wrong message.  Plus, with digital technologies there are ways to track and archive a fair bit of digital interactions so investigations can be conducted. 


There is the chance someone could hack your account and spread false information.  If you have no account though, it is quite likely that someone else will step in and fill the gap, giving out information that you have no control over and possibly causing far more harm. 

Life Balance 

How often have you you said, "I'm so busy, I don't even have time to think!" This old statement is more true than you know. We often have trouble separating things that are urgent but not important from those things that are not urgent but are important. It's easy to let the crisis-of-the-day take over all your available time.

The problem with this is that you never get ahead of the game unless you take time to think and strategize. You need to carve out time in each day to really think about what is going on. Take a walk on your lunch break. Reserve a half hour at the end of the day or in the morning where you don't answer the phone. Lean back in your chair, stare at the wall and think! You'll be surprised at the results.
From the Bookshelf 
Written five years ago before the current social media explosion, Gerald Baron's book Now Is Too Late: Survival in an Era of Instant News is both remarkably prescient and very relevant to today's crisis communicator. Baron shows how the nature of crisis communications has changed from news releases and press conferences to a war-room atmosphere where the situation changes minute-by-minute. More importantly, he discusses how the target of communications has shifted from the media to the end user and how emerging technologies is driving this change. His predictions about social media have proved right on target. This book is definitely required reading for anyone seeking to craft a crisis communications strategy.
Speaking Engagements 

September 14: Keynote Address: Crisis in Leadership or Leadership in Crisis? Kansas Emergency Management Association Annual Meeting, Topeka KS


September 14: Basic Concepts to Power Your Program Kansas Emergency Management Association Annual Meeting, Topeka KS


November 15: A Tale of Three Fires: Do We Really Learn from Disasters? International Association of Emergency Managers Conference, Las Vegas NV

Looking for a Speaker?


Need a speaker for your next conference? I offer keynotes, seminars and workshops. You can find more details on my website  or on my new SpeakerMixpage. 


Lucien Canton Seminar Excerpts
Lucien Canton Seminar Excerpts
If you've heard me speak...

...I'd greatly appreciate it if you would take a minute to give me feedback on my SpeakerMix site. Just go to the site and click on the "Write A Review" button. 


Many thanks!

ŠLucien G. Canton  March 2011