Valuable Lessons Not Always Found in a Book or Classroom

Having read Mashable’s Boston Police Schooled Us All on Social Media, it really brings to light the incredible job the Boston PD’s social media team did as well as the valuable lessons their actions provided. The Boston PD has been active in social networks long before the tragic events of April 15, 2013 and that prepared them for effective and proactive use when it was needed most! Community relations is such a huge component for any public facing organization. I would like to take a moment and share some of my observations on the points made in the Mashable article.

Tweeting isn’t new for Boston Police

A look at the Boston PD Twitter profile shows that the account is very active and engaged while looking to be useful to followers and visitors to the city. Being so active allows the people that actually manage the account to create a blended voice for the online brand while developing an online identity. The active presence also allows them to get a feel for context and how to speak in the appropriate tone for any given situation. Once the attacks happened at the marathon, this experience provided the foresight to be on top of the online discussion and be ready to correct any misinformation or posting of info that may compromise the pursuit of the then suspects. Being the go to source for accurate information could only happen if the team managing the social channels had a seat at the table and access to important information as it became available. The fact that they had been so active leading up to the 15th probably displayed to the PD leadership the potential value in a crisis situation.

The Importance of Being Present

I’m sure with Patriot Day being the huge holiday it is for the City of Boston, the PD was prepared not only with extra officers and special units, they undoubtedly must have had a large team in place to handle online inquiries as well. I’d also bet each of the people in place had significant experience within the area they happened to be engaged. This really shows that having people in place that are experienced and familiar with the platform they are working on is critical. Just being present is only part of the challenge, a small part at that. Having the right people present is imperative!

I was fascinated and impressed with so much related to this incident. Being a first responder myself for over 30 years I was really interested in the various agencies and how they responded. Much of that information was available to me instantly online.

Did you follow the events of the marathon through social? What did you find most interesting while watching things unfold?

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