Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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April 9, 2011

QR Codes & Crisis Communications: How to integrate new mobile technology into traditional crisis message strategies and tactics

One of the areas that I am active in both research and consulting is in crisis communications with new emerging technology, and so it is interesting to see how various forms of technologies are being implemented in communicating, sharing, and disseminating information in a crisis situation.  From providing updates via social networking sites like Facebook and tweets through Twitter to webcasting press conferences and interviews via YouTube and other video sharing websites. It was just announced this past week that Homeland Security is going to be issuing terror warnings via Facebook and Twitter starting near the end of the month of April.

Integrating social media into crisis communications is fundamental – crisis communication professionals do not necessarily need to re-create a complete and totally new crisis plan.  Some of the same practices still apply, however, it is key to understand what are the uses of these new technologies, the benefits and challenges of using them, and how they can be strategically applied and used before, during, and after a crisis.  Being able to monitor these conversations through various social media monitoring sites to set up benchmarks throughout a campaign / crisis  and applications is essential in detecting early warning signs, current trends and issues that need to be immediately addressed, listening to what the media and others are saying, and making sure that there are no false rumors spreading online through social media during the crisis.  Many case studies have focused on these various points – some have done exceptionally well in handling the crisis with social media (CDC & H1N1) while others have not been as successful.

While sharing these warnings, messages, and updates through sites like Facebook and Twitter are interesting – what about the impact of using QR codes in sharing this information as well?  The Google Crisis Response Center Page displayed a QR Code with information for the US Embassy, which is an example of how this is becoming more of a trend that crisis communication professionals need to be aware of and consider as an option in how to disseminate and share this information through mobile technology.  Here are a few ideas that would be interesting for implementing QR Codes into a crisis communications plan:

  • Creating QR Codes with these warnings that can be displayed publicly at various places: Allowing people to scan these codes with the necessary information that they need to reduce their levels of uncertainty and where they can go for further information is key.  Some places that might be useful to incorporate these would be electronic displays and billboards to name a few.
  • Educate and formulate strategies in how to use these QR codes and when to implement them: Discuss the current awareness of the technology with team members as well as audiences to gauge whether or not this would be an appropriate application to use.  Create workshops and training seminars to test these messages and conduct education seminars on what are QR codes, how to use them, and brainstorm other ways to incorporate them into communication and PR practices.
  • Embed simple, concise, and direct messages for QR Codes: There is only so much information you can present in QR Codes, and people want to have the information that they need immediately and relevant to the specific crisis situation.
  • Discuss what information will be presented in the QR Code: Will it be SMS or Links to a website?  What about action steps that can be conceptualized in only a few characters?  These are just some of the elements to consider along with the fact that if you want to embed the option for people to share via Facebook or tweet this information to their friends, followers, and others in their online community.
  • Determine how to measure and evaluate the use of QR Codes in crisis situation: Discuss how the team involved in the crisis will monitor and evaluate the success of implementing this application into crisis communication message.  Interviews, metrics via social media, hits, surveys, and feedback from users would be some examples of how to evaluate the use and implementation of QR codes in a crisis.
  • Integrate tracking via QR Codes: Creating a QR code for each member of the team as well as impacted audiences in a specific location may also be an option to consider in various situations.

In summary, people are getting their information on the go and want it immediately and easily available with a touch of a button.  QR codes provide an option to provide individuals with information about these crisis warnings immediately while allowing them to have the power to share this information with others (ex. family, friends, followers, etc).  Technology continues to evolve and change, and it is the job of the crisis communication professional to keep up with it – we need to make sure that we are reaching our audiences in the most effective manner in a crisis while integrating new emerging applications and platforms into current crisis communication message strategies and tactics.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


readings in social media and pr for april 9th 2011

Filed under: A list news,Facebook,Public Relations,social media,twitter — Karen @ 7:14 am

My Cousin Scott (left) at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich during last year's Octoberfest!

Here is what I am reading today:

“According to TechRice, Facebook will be partnering with Baidu, the largest search engine in China, valued at $50 billion. That’s if Hu Yanping, founder of the Beijing-based Data Center of the China Internet (DCCI), tweets the truth. He says Facebook has already signed an official contract with Baidu to create a new social network in China.

Marbridge Consulting has also heard from multiple industry sources, which say Facebook will be working with Baidu on the new China site, bolstered by rumors that Baidu visited Facebook in February.”

“But in the age of Twitter and Facebook, a diet that “goes viral” is a very, very good thing. Witness the fast rise of The 17-Day Diet, released on March 15 and already a New York Times advice book bestseller. It touts itself as “A doctor’s plan designed for rapid results,” and is based upon boosting the dieter’s metabolism in 17-day cycles of different foods. Also making the global social-media rounds is France’s wildly popular high-protein Dukan diet, which is getting Twitter traffic even before the release of The Dukan Diet book, which is set to hit American bookstores later this month.”

“Playdom today announced the launch of Gardens of Time, a hidden object game re-imagined with social elements on Facebook. Gardens of Time provides the artistic and game play depth of a downloadable hidden object game while setting a new standard of social game play within the genre.”

“With the explosion of social media, the Tribe put their arms around the movement and opened the “Tribe Social Deck” in the left field bleachers. The idea is that if you take people who are active social media users and give them seats at a baseball game, they’ll use social media to tell their friends what they are doing.”

“Google has reportedly applied a new multiplier to staff bonuses for 2011. According to a leaked memo from Google CEO Larry Page, the company is making its social efforts a top priority and will reward all employees if those products are a success — or dock everyone’s bonus if those efforts fail.”

Eat, sleep, tweet, mentor, and repeat: Importance of mentoring in Public Relations

mentoring often means working together!

One of the roles that we have as professionals and scholars in public relations is to be a source of information for not only the field and in research, but also in academic activities.  Mentoring is one thing that I feel is absolutely important for students to learn not only what they need to do in the classroom, going for an internship, how to manage their online presence, etc.  I have been active in mentoring for both my undergraduate and graduate students – it has been very rewarding for me to help others out and learn from them as well.   It is also an opportunity to share with them stories and best practices based on your experience.  Social media has been a great tool to share these perspectives and thoughts with fellow students, colleagues, and professionals.  In many ways, it is the way that people are sharing and discussing these issues with each other.  Social media – as it is discussed throughout PR – involves many different sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, and others to name a few.

There are many recommendations and suggestions related to mentoring, but here are a few that I have learned from my experiences that have worked for me.

  • Knowledge sharing is a two-way street: Mentoring and reverse mentoring is also key to remember – you can learn something from anyone, and it is all about synthesizing the material to create a comprehensive view of what is going on in the field based on these various insights and experiences.
  • Networking, networking, and networking!: Establishing connections through events, conferences, presentations, and other events is absolutely important.  You never know who you may meet and who is interested in your work or expertise.
  • Take every opportunity to establish yourself in the field:  Whether it is about teaching a specific class or participating in a research project or consulting with a specific organization – the thing that I try to tell my students is to make sure to seize opportunities as they come by.  Working hard and strategically will help do this, and I try to share this with my students both at the graduate and undergraduate level.
  • Paying it forward: One thing that I tell students and others that when it comes to knowledge and sharing your insights – it is about paying it forward.  There are some things that I have learned from my experiences in school, track. research, and teaching that I share with my students, but I encourage them to also think about their role as a mentor, and what they can do to pay it forward.

In summary, mentoring is key and there have been several people in my life that I do consider to be my mentors in school, track, and life – and I have tried to follow in their footsteps in bringing this to the PR profession both in research and practice.  Mentoring and helping others is very rewarding and it is something that I will want to continue in the future.

Hope you all are having a wonderful day!

Best Wishes,



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