A look at Hurricane Sandy and the benefits of social media crisis communication:

Hurricane Sandy was a hurricane that hit the United States in October 2012 and affected 24 states, including the eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine, west across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin. Most of the damage was in New York and New Jersey, though, with substantial storm surge damage in New York City.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s response:

  1. Posts and retweets of major announcements by governor
  2. Status of infrastructure
  3. Service updates
  4. Photos shared to tell story
  5. Links to updated maps and service notices (real time posts)
  6. Responses to questions
  7. Each time map was updates, immediately posted to Facebook and Twitter
  8. Continue today to inform costumers of rehab projects

Jet Blue

  1. Press release released via social media to say exactly when flights would stop
  2. Responded to questions on Twitter about flights and delays

General — City of New York

  1. Twitter accounts for major voices, including the mayor, governor and FDNY that constantly updated followers on what was going on and what they could do. 
  2. Facebook page and Tumblr page were used to rally and inform citizens and volunteers.
  3. Governments did all they could to warn citizens and give them every chance to evacuate (having learned from Hurricane Katrina’s disaster).
  4. FEMA officials briefed media and government on proper aid measures.

Con Edison, which provides gas, electric and steam to many NY customers.

  1. Pre-Sandy: 6500 Twitter followers
  2. After Sandy: More than 23,000 Twitter followers
  3. Press releases retweeted more than 2500 times
  4. 25 videos about prep and response were viewed more than 100,000 times
  5. About 140,000 views on Flickr of restoration efforts

Mobile technologies most definitely helped the crisis communication efforts before, during and after Hurricane Sandy. Government officials and service companies (such as MTA, Jet Blue and Con Edison) kept citizens up-to-date with hundreds of messages across a wide variety of mediums. Though Hurricane Sandy was one of the most expensive hurricanes in American history, the PR crisis communication throughout the situation was thoughtful, responsive and highly effective.

I think the best way for Harding to use the strategies seen during this crisis would come into play during something that can be planned for a little more. It would not work for a tornado or an active shooter as well, but with something like a flood or large storm, the use of social media keeps people informed without freaking them out too much. I’d like to see Harding use Twitter and Facebook more, linking to press releases and relevant information.

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