A recent post that appeared on Arik Hanson’s website Communications Conversations discussed how public relations professionals can use Apple’s latest product the iPad for their professional and business uses.  The post does provide some really good suggestions on how public relations professionals can monitor and use the iPad and its applications for listening to what others are saying regarding their product, and how to promote a particular event for the organization or individual you are representing.

Apple's iPad (2010) - Courtesy of Mashable.com

However, these are ways that public relations professionals can use the iPad for positive events and activities – but that is not always the case for us in public relations.  We have to deal with crises that our corporations or individuals we are representing all of the time.  Social media create a novel receiver environment by allowing receivers to control and redistribute the information they process. This new communications environment has significant implications for managing crisis situations for public relations professionals.  Crises can range from environmental issues (like the latest oil spill in the Gulf) to corporate and legal crises (ex. Bernie Madoff and the economic crisis).  So, how can public relations professionals strategically use the iPad in their crisis communications practices?  Here are a few things that I would recommend for businesses and public relations professionals to consider:

Monitor latest trends and negatively associated viral catchphrases (ex. Internet memes) associated with the client: Like Mr. Hanson suggested, public relations professionals can use the iPad to monitor and listen to what others are saying about them online.  However, not everything that is written about a corporation or individual is positive – so it is important for crisis communication professionals to monitor and use specific applications for the iPad to see what viral catchphrases are being associated with them.

Sharing knowledge at anytime, anyplace. With the iPad, crisis communication professionals can connect with their stakeholders (ex. customers, investors, media, etc) with a touch of the button and immediately connect with the online community with the latest updates and information regarding a crisis.  In addition, crisis communication professionals can use specific applications to make sure that they are sending information not only on social media outlets, but on their email as well.

Have documents available electronically for presentations and press conferences. The days of carrying around traditional media kits or fact sheets, or even written prepared statements on paper for a press conference are coming to an end.  Crisis communication professionals can use their iPad for press conferences that will have all of the necessary documents and materials that they will need in order to prepare for handling a press conference and prepared statements.  With a touch of a button, they can send this material electronically and immediately to those reporters that ask for this material. In addition, if crisis communication professionals have to answer tough questions regarding a very complex subject (ex. chemical spills), they can use specific applications immediately for their reference and then are able to address the question with more knowledge.

Easy transportable laptop to take to crisis sites and locations:  One of the comments that technology analysts are saying regarding the iPad is the fact that it may replace laptops as we know it.  The iPad will make it easy for crisis communication professionals to be able to communicate and share information on the go at any location.  It is smaller but easier to transport around – whether you are on site or traveling – it is definitely easier to manage compared to a laptop.

Creating engagement with stakeholders:  Like mobile applications and mobile marketing, the key elements that public relations professionals have to be aware of is that relationships are the key currency being used presently for business.  People want to do business with others that are actively listening to what they have to say and are there for the long-term.  Crisis communication professionals have to be engaged and active in the various conversations that are being discussed in a crisis situation.  In addition, they need to make sure that they are giving people enough information to reduce their levels of uncertainty regarding a crisis, and specific action steps that they can take.  Also, crisis communication professionals can create their own application with these specific crisis communication messages as well as provide people with visuals (ex. symptoms of illness like H1N1).

Anyway, these are just a few things that I think that public relations and crisis communication professionals can do with the new iPad.  On a side note, as a celebration for passing my comprehensive exams and becoming a doctoral candidate, I have purchased my own iPad – it will be arriving tomorrow!  I am super excited not only to use it for research and teaching, but to explore future possibilities in how to use it in crisis communication practices.

Hope you all are having a wonderful day.

Best Wishes,