Virginia Tech Shooting Today: Crisis Communications Case Unfolding – Social Media Impact

Virginia Tech has another school shooting today. Two have died. Please keep these people in your prayers today.

For those who are students of Crisis Communications – both university students and public relations professionals wishing to learn more about proper crisis communications in the age of social media – today is sadly one of those days when you can watch a crisis unfold in the Social Media and online world.

The 2007 Virginia Tech shooting was characterized by slow communications. The first official notice to students in 2007 went out 2 hours and 10 minutes after the first 2 victims were shot, which was also 10 minutes after 30 more people were killed. I’ve long contended that slow communications lead to 30 unnecessary deaths.

Today’s Virginia Tech shooting has had rapid notice by text alert and numerous updates to the Virginia Tech home page

Follow #VT on Twitter to study how this social media venue unfolds.

Like the VT Facebook page to watch the wide variety of comments.

You will see many YouTube videos. I’ve posted this video for you.

Follow some of the online links like this. This is an example of the types of social media some of you may sadly face some day; the types of social media you must prepare for.

Among the crisis communications trends you should follow is whether Facebook becomes a place where students complain because their text messages were slow in arriving and whether they were unable to access information on the Virginia Tech website. During a university or school crisis, it may take 20 to 30 minutes before all students receive their text message. Also, high traffic keeps people from getting updates on the official website.

As you follow Twitter messages about the Virginia Tech shooting, pay close attention to the problems caused by well intentioned people who re-Tweet old and incorrect communications and information. In other school shootings that I have studied since the advent of Twitter, it has been my experience that hours after an all clear has been communicated, people will re-Tweet old messages warning of the shooting as though it is still happening. This is one of the reasons I hate social media when a crisis is unfolding.

To discuss what you may need to prepare of a similar crisis at your school, university or corporation, please contact me via the Braud Communications website or theGerard Braud e-mail.

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