How Doris kicked up a social media storm

One of the topics we discuss during crisis training is the way journalists use social media to find context for stories, including photos and videos they can use in their reports.

We show participants examples of how, before journalists even arrive on the scene, rolling news reports on their websites feature updates from eyewitnesses and emergency services.

A tool we recommend is Advanced Searches on Twitter. This helps people to find relevant hashtags, tweets from particular accounts and gives them the ability to narrow results down by location.

In the case of #StormDoris this allowed local journalists to find relevant tweets from the area they cover.

My 11 year old son’s half-term football camp was dramatically interrupted as a gust blew the entire roof off the clubhouse and on to a nearby cricket pitch. Thankfully, no one was injured and the coaches did a great job in keeping the boys safe.

He had his phone with him and by the time I had arrived to take him home, my son had managed to film the aftermath. I tweeted his video with the hashtag #stormdoris and it was picked up by Matt Cannon, Digital Reporter for the Birmingham Mail. He asked permission to use the footage and was kind enough to tweet back and let us know when the news story went live.

This type of reporting has huge implications for those managing social media accounts in a crisis. Like many of his friends, my son thinks visually and his first instinct (beyond survival!) was to film.  He and his friends are growing up in an increasingly visual online world. The challenge for organisations to keep pace, continues.

It is impossible to stay ahead of what is happening on social media. However, understanding the tools that journalists and others use, allows organisations to monitor, respond, and manage a situation online.