Posts Tagged ‘Marketing and Advertising


Open Source EM

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

A few years ago, if you were to suggest using civilian technology for emergency response, you would have been laughed at.  It seems everyone was spending money like it was going out of style, thanks largely to the large amount of grant money.  Everyone had their own mobile command posts, high tech radios, etc…but those times are gone.   The grants have dried up, the costs to maintain the equipment bought with grants is very high, and EM‘s and first responders are doing more with less.  What about doing it for free?

There are now a lot of free software packages and online programs that allow you to do a lot for very little money or no cost at all.  Google docs and groups allow you to collaborate in real time.  They work very similarly to Microsoft sharepoint but are completely free.  EAS systems can cost 10’s of thousands of dollars to buy and maintain and now we are finding that free social media services provide better warning and allow for two way communication.  You can even provide free webinar trainings using (although not for long).  I was a strong advocate of public safety designed gear, and in many cases this is still the case, but I use these free services all the time.  I couldn’t function without them.


The two way street

One-way street in New York City.

Image via Wikipedia

An easy to understand metaphor for social media is the two way street. The two way street allows for traffic to flow in both directions fluidly. If you only have traffic flowing in one direction, there is opportunity to flow in the other direction as well. This however is not how many people are using social media. I recently consulted with a large restaurant chain on how they could implement social media into their public relations. I advised them that if they are going to use social media they must being willing to accept traffic both ways. Their concern is something many people have when dealing with communication that everyone will see. They were afraid people may say something bad about them or there would be posts that were offensive or they would get spammed. If you aren’t using social media as a two way conversation, than don’t bother. It’s a waste of your time and people will ignore the information you are issuing. Just build a website where you can control any information going out or into your company or agency and be done with it.

This attitude is very common amongst people who are stuck on the old approach of public relations; that you have to have absolute control over the information going in or out. You can’t have two way traffic on a one way street. You can’t have a conversation if one person isn’t allowed to talk. You can’t successfully implement social media if you aren’t willing to communicate both ways. If people are complaining about something then that means they are paying attention to the info you are putting out! Your getting instant feedback about an experience they are having. This is extremely valuable and ensures customer satisfaction and in emergency management you customers are tax paying citizens who you are assigned to protect! Swallow your pride and aknowledge that you will make mistakes and that people are simply going to spread their bad experience whether you are listening to them or not. If you get that information from them in a post or tweet than you have the opportunity to respond to it and provide your side of the situation and ultimately you have more control over the situation than you would in a one way system. It also looks great when you are responding to complaints because people see your concerned and willing to rectify the problem publicly. This is PR gold!