In part 1 of this two part series we will discuss how your organization can protect itself from a public relations crisis by establishing a standard operating procedure (SOP) on social media.
A good social media policy is something that every fire and EMS department should have in their SOPs. You and your department must recognize the value of social media but also the immediate implications that this new ever changing media presents us.
Social media is “young” in the world of media operations. This means it is also dynamic and evolving. Many ask why the fire service would want to keep up with social media. Let’s drill down into this a bit further and examine why.
An organization has every right to protect not only itself; but the city or town it protects, its’ own membership, and most importantly the citizens it serves from poor, inappropriate or misleading written, video or photographic media assembled and posted about its operations on and off the fire ground.
There is no doubt right now that there are videos, photographs, forums and general postings involving your organization posted on one of the larger social media networks. Many of these are posted by various fire service members, including some of your own members for a variety of reason. Some reasons are for good and some not so good. You and your department need to know what the content of this media is.
The subject matter could range from fire station antics on YouTube to a graphic incident scene from a recent MVC that a member posted to their Facebook page. It could also be some good discussion on how well your personnel’s ladder placement worked on a recent fire.
Who reads and views these posts?
Maybe it’s the general public because it crosses their social media “news-feed”?
Maybe it’s the politician who is keeping up on what you’re organization’s activities to see how your budget he helped pass is being used.
Maybe it’s the local news organization looking for a story?
Most likely it’s all of them.
All it takes is one person seeing your organization in a poor image and that particular media has the potential to go viral; irreparably damaging your organization’s name and reputation.
How many of you have considered this problem? What is your plan? Do you have one?
How many of you have experience with negative social media issues? Have you considered developing a social media policy to help protect your department?
Next time in part 2 of this series we will discuss building the policy and the issues to consider. It’s not as easy as one might think.