From a public relations perspective, a crisis can be an opportunity to demonstrate leaders’ involvement and dedication. Strong leaders see the chance to build trust and solidarity with their constituents and to demonstrate their compassion and capability. We saw from Hurricane Katrina how essential it is for government leaders to provide a fast and effective response in the face of crisis.
The East Coast’s epic Hurricane Sandy this week provided another opportunity for leadership through crisis. Some of the best leaders took to Twitter, a platform for instantaneous communication, to communicate with their constituents, especially after power outages disconnected them from most other media.
In the midst and aftermath of Sandy, no one used Twitter more effectively than Cory Booker, the superhero mayor of Newark, NJ. In his almost ceaseless tweets since the hurricane hit New Jersey, Mayor Booker has individually connected with, encouraged and informed hundreds of constituents. Local leaders along the East Coast have followed suit. Their tweets make use of the best strategies for leveraging social media to lead through a crisis:
Strategy 1: Provide the information. Leaders have been using Twitter to communicate school closings, safety strategies and emergency updates to constituents. These tweets demonstrate personal involvement in relief effort, and help keep panic-inducing misinformation at bay.
Strategy 2: Support relief efforts. Safety tips carry weight when they come straight from the mouth of a local leader. These tweets are also a great way of supporting relief workers. Check out how Booker has been thanking emergency workers in Newark and encouraging his constituents to help crew do their jobs:
Strategy 3: Personally reassure constituents. Twitter is a medium for conversations and direct interaction. Leaders are securing life-long supporters when they personally respond to constituents in crisis. Tweeting about their own experiences builds solidarity and trust, too.
Strategy 4: Offer hope. In times of crisis, we’re all looking for a source of hope. Even in a blackout, leaders can comfort and motivate.
Leading through crisis is an essential skill for leaders in any organization. What best practices – or mistakes to learn from – come to mind for you when you think of leadership in times of crisis?