Tag Archive | technology

Emergency Management and Communications

Who are our emergency managers?

Emergency management (EM) professionals’ role is to protect people, property, critical infrastructure and the environment during emergencies and disasters.  They are often involved in educating  the public on how to be prepared for such events. When a disaster occurs, they are the ones that are organizing the efforts to get help to those in need.  You will find emergency managers in any organization that are First-Responders during a disaster or emergency – i.e. Fire, Police, Paramedics, Hospitals, Municipalities, etc.

In Ontario, it is law that each municipality is required to have an Emergency Management Program Coordinator. [1] [2] Emergency management is sometimes a role within a role.  For example, a fire chief may take on the job of an emergency manager [3].  A sample task within this role could be overseeing the implementation of a more effective communication program between various First-Responders (i.e. police, fire, mayor’s office, etc) to use during an emergency.

How do they communicate?

Working with FutureShield for a couple of years, I have had the privilege of meeting some exceptional EM pros from across our country.  One aspect of FutureShield’s  business is to help their customers find the right software technology to support better communications within their organizations.  These men and women in charge of sourcing out such solutions are some of the most innovative, visionary and tech-savvy among their peers.  They understand the advantages of using technology to assist their efforts to support the welfare of our communities.  Examples –  Windsor Exercise , U Windsor wins the MTIA award , BC Hydro’s security during the  Olympics

Do these same people embrace social media as part of their overall communication plan?  How is social media affecting their roles?  How does it fit within their overall communication strategy?

Related Blogs:

References:

[1]  Ontario Regulation 380/04

[2] Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act

[3] Emergency Management Coordinator as an additional position – North Bay, Meaford, New Tecumseth

People, Links, Related Articles:

Patrice Cloutier  – Communications Strategist for the Ontario Government

Shared Emergency Management links

IAEM – International Association of Emergency Managers

OAEM – Ontario Association of Emergency Managers

Emergency Management Ontario – EMO

www.sm4em.org – online group for Social Media for Emergency Management – including Twitter Hash tag discussions #SMEM

PR Pros are Sharpening their Virtual Pencils

We are never too old to stop learning, and in the fast-paced and ever-changing world that we live in, this statement could not be truer as it pertains to communications.  This is why, Public Relations professionals are back in the classroom and sharpening their virtual pencils.

With the introduction of new technology, a real paradigm shift has happened in the way people interact with each other (Clay Shirk’s Book – “Here Comes Everybody”).  They now have the ability to hold two-way conversations ‘on demand’, and they like that.  These same people know that organizations and companies have the tools to converse with them in a similar fashion, and they expect it.   So, as PR professionals we need to develop our skills to stay current, so that we can offer the best possible service to our customers.  This is why I have gone..

Back to School

Last semester I had the privilege of taking the introductory social media for public relations course at McMaster University.  Under the direction of Martin Waxman, we had the opportunity to become better acquainted with  certain social media ‘tools of the trade’, learn some best practices and network with other professionals in our field.

This semester, led by Jared Lenover, we will learn various strategies, tools, techniques and best practices for :  Researching, Planning, Implementation, Management, Evaluation and Measurement for social media as it relates to public relations.

Key questions

that I will be asking from this course are:

  • Engagement:  How do I increase the quality and quantity of engagement with my audiences on various social media platforms?
  • Strategy:  How to best align social media within the overall business strategy to receive the greatest success?
  • Tools:  What are the best tools on the market for the best value, and when do I use them?

Class in session >>>> Let the learning begin!

Social Media: Part 3 – The Budget

Budgeting for your Social Media Program


First thing we must understand is that there is a difference between a Social Media Program and a Social Media Campaign.  Programs (Plans)  are developed within your overall strategy and will often have smaller programs / campaigns within that plan. Tactics are used to achieve the objectives for these programs and campaigns.   Even if you only decide on a limited program for social media, (i.e. Facebook profile with a contest once a month)  please go through the planning exercise to make sure that it supports your overall business objectives.  Offering SMART objectives (S- Strategic, M-Measurable, A-Achievable, R-Realistic and T-Time-bound) will help build your case to get the budget that you seek for your program.  If you are the owner of your business, part of a charitable organization or an employee at your company, you will need to justify this budget to measure your return on investment and for forward planning.  (Refer to my Social Media Research and Plan blogs for steps 1 & 2 ).

  1. Research – Do you need to do anymore research?  Are you going to have to include any of this in your budget (i.e. Focus groups).  Some organizations will do a research budget first and then based on the results move to the next step to acquire more budget for the program.  For small businesses, much of your research can be gathered at the most a nominal charge:  Free information available on the internet, informal conversations with key customers, and marketing data that you have collected over the years.
  2. Social Media maturity – If you already have certain social media platforms set up (i.e. Facebook page, Linked in company, Twitter account) this will save some time.  If you have staff that can assist and you, and you yourself  have some familiarity with using social media, this will give you some support and background to getting started.  Much of the start-up budget is just getting your online profiles set up.  Much of Social Media budget is allocated to TIME.  If you have someone on staff that can create, manage and monitor your profiles, consider this as an option; BUT,  think this through because it is your reputation and money that is being used.  Source out a social media expert to get some quotes, you might be surprised.
  3. Hire a Social Media Consultant, or not? Your biggest portion of budget will be to your ‘Community Manager’.  Salaries for this position varies depending on the time commitment, expertise and what part of the world you live in.  I have seen salaries ranging from $35-$50K on LinkedIn.  If you decide to bring in a consultant to help you develop your strategy, this will be an added cost as well. Make sure you do your research on what to expect out of someone who will assist in developing your strategy.  Not only will you want them to have experience in Social Media and Public Relations, but you will want them to have a good grasp of overall business strategies.  Check out the Related Resources section below for tips on hiring, or ask me any questions in the comment section.
  4. What do you want to achieve?  The more you want, the more it will cost.
    • Profiles – how many?  How many updates needed on each profile?  How often?
    • Where will you get your content?  Time – who will do this?
    • Monitoring – Will you have someone monitor social media for trends, competitors, etc.
    • Will you be having campaigns throughout the time period?  What will this look like?
  5. Tools – There are many free tools that are very effective.  As your programs grow, you may want to purchase a subscription to a social media tool to assist in the area of management, monitoring and analysis.  Hootsuite, Hubspot, Constant Contact and Radian6 are examples of some social media tools on the market.  Some of these tools offer a Free trial, or a Free limited version of their product and this is fine for starting out, but as your team and program grows, you really should consider a software tool to support your efforts.  Automation will not only save you time, but will help with efficiency.

Budget Checklist

  • Who – Human Resources to start, implement, manage and evaluate the program and/or campaign
  • What – Objectives – What does success look like ?
  • When – Timeline – milestones and final evaluation
  • Where – Social Media sites to be used
  • How – Tactics:  How are you going to achieve this?  Monitoring and Measurement:  Tools to be used?

These questions will frame your budget.  Human resources will be your largest contribution to your budget.  Be realistic, but also understand that you set up opportunity for evaluation so that you can review your budget for long-term planning.  Consider too that you may be paying  less now for traditional media (i.e. print) to free up some budget dollars for human resources and other social media resources needed for this initiative.

Related Resources (articles, books, blogs):

Mashable:  How to Optimize your Social Media Budget

Brian Solis – The State of Social Marketing 2011-2012 – Brian talks about the situation of Social Marketing today.  181 Brand managers, agency professionals, and experts were surveyed and Brian offers highlights, graphs and other social media statistics on his blog.  Not surprising, but one of the greatest challenges in keeping social from being main stream in organizations is budget challenges.  BUT keep reading because statistics are showing that organizations are planning to increase social spending over the next few years.

Alia Haley (guest blogger) SocialWayne.com- Budgeting for Social Media:  Who pays for it and why

SMART Objectives – http://topachievement.com/smart.html

Neil Schaffer : Hiring a social Media Consultant

Ann Gregory:  Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns (book on KOBO)

Spin Sucks:

Sam’s Teach Yourself Facebook in 10 minutes: E-Book review

Recently I purchased a KOBO e-book.  Yes, I balked at this for a long time as I am one that still likes the touch and feel of a good book in my hands.  Having a wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor library has been a life long dream, but the reality of it is, e-books just make sense in today’s fast paced, transient and information overloaded business world.  It gives you the ability to carry a very large library with you at all times (very appealing) and for someone who is a compulsive highlighter and note taker, the ability to do it right on the e-book is a bonus.   Not to say that I won’t be giving up all my paper books right away, but I find I am gravitating to the e-book more and more.  What finally convinced me to purchase it?  It was the fact that books were available for me to download immediately from my KOBO account and I save money on shipping.

I have only had the opportunity to read a couple of books, and Sam’s Teach Yourself Facebook in 10 minutes was my first.  The book offers a background to what Facebook is all about, why you should have a Facebook page for your business, and simple step-by-step instructions on how to set up a business page.  The book offers advertising tips, best-practices, how to plan a campaign and links to other related articles.  Of course measurement is key and they touch on how to do this as well.  If you purchase the e-version, it allows for online registration to get updates of the book when they are available.

Overall a very simple and quick read, especially if you are just starting out and need the basics.  If you already have a Facebook page and want more in-depth advice on how to make your page and campaigns more effective, this might be a little light for you.  But don’t pass this off, even if you are experienced, the price is right for this inexpensive reference tool.

So for someone just starting out,  I would give this two-thumbs up.

Price:  Amazon offers it for $14.99,  my KOBO purchase was $8.79

Do you have any other books that were helpful for you as you built your Facebook business page?  Would love to hear from you.

Social Media: Getting started – Research

“I’m just too busy”, “I just don’t understand the technology”, “I haven’t needed it before”, “I will get to it soon”…..

Are these some of the comments that you give to your employees when they suggest that having social media as part of your communication strategy would be beneficial to your business?  If you have a plan, and are running with it, good for you!  This is an ever evolving process and there will be challenges along the way, but at least you see the value in including social media as part of your overall business plan.  If you are a customer-centric B2B compared to a similar B2C business, your plan may look a little different, but the need to include this as part of your communication strategy is still very important.

Here is some information to encourage you to get started, and tips to consider when moving forward into the world of business social media.

Interesting 2011 social media statistics provided by Social Media Examiner:

  • There are now more than 800 million active Facebook users, with over 200 million added in 2011.
  • Over 80% of all Americans use a social network
  • Why are businesses moving towards the use of Social Media?- Connecting with customers, Visibility, Self-promotion
  • 50% of small business owners reported gaining new customers through social media – most notably through Facebook and LinkedIn

So are you convinced that you need to get started?  First things first, do your research.

Research Tips

  1. Employees can be your best resource – If you are not tech-savvy, it is most likely that a few of your staff have been using social media personally for many years and will be more than happy to help you get started.  Ask their advice.
  2. Know your customers – Many of your sales people will have ‘front-line’ feedback about your customer’s buying habits, how often your customers use  mobile devices when walking around the store checking prices, and even customer feedback on where and how they spend their on-line time.  Where your customers are (online platforms i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc), there you should be also.
  3. Competition – See what your competitors are doing.
  4. Industry Support – Do any of your industry groups, or brands offer marketing support for your development of social media in your business?
  5. More information – There are more books and online articles available for your reading pleasure, but this can get quite overwhelming considering the technology and development of this field of business is constantly evolving.  But if you are interested, check out My BlogRoll for more links to blogs & articles on the subject.
  6. Outside help – There are many marketing and public relations consultants and agencies that are experts in the area of social media and digital marketing.   Limited budget?  Look for a recent graduate looking to develop their portfolio.  A more complex plan, consult a seasoned professional.

Watch out for the next segment – ‘THE PLAN’

Questions/Comments?  Please write below.