A rhetorical question I posed at the end of our Blogging for Public Health session at CDC last week that was intended to generate a sense of
urgency to become involved in the social media space took on some
chilling realities with the events at Virginia Tech. Susan Promisio captured it like this:
'What if the post-9/11 anthrax scare happened now instead of then?' If the CDC isn’t out in front in the blogosphere, owning that issue and guiding the public in how to interpret the threat and respond appropriately, other bloggers who might be less expert, but quicker to capitalize on the information vacuum, will command the blogging stage.
Marianne Richmond, another of our panelists, weighs in about the VT tragedy from that same perspective.
Yesterday's incomprehensible tragic events at Virginia Tech also highlight the way the information is disseminated during a crisis and the need for "official" sources to use social media tools as part of their crisis management plan. I think one of the thoughts that became crystallized for me during the CDC panel and the Forrester Marketing Forum is that if social media was viewed in light of this is a tool, what can I use it for to enhance my communications...
And that mobile technologies were not part of the official response to notify students of danger is another signal that taking a head-in-the-sand approach to emergency risk communications using old media (email !?) endangers lives for control of the message. I don't think that's a reasonable trade-off. And ignorance is no longer an excuse.