On The Record Online

Haiti EarthquakeHaiti Emergency Earthquake Communications Case Study. Organizations charged with responding to the earthquake that killed 300,000 people in Haiti last January faced tremendous challenges. Barbara Burfeind, chief of Plans and Integration for Defense Visual Information within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and Heidi Lenzini, lieutenant commander, U.S. Navy Southern Command Public Affairs, report on the interplay between disaster relief logistics, equipment and online crisis communications.


2:40 Haiti disaster online crisis communications lessons learned. Heidi describes her insights from manning the duty phone of the organization charged with keeping the world updated in the hours after a natural disaster.
3:33 Emergency communications obstacles include the onslaught of inquiries to the point that communications systems become overloaded and information flow ceased.

5:38 Conducting crisis communications online with tools like Twitter, Facebook, websites and voicemail, if continually updated with new information, can reduce paralyzing inbound requests and call volume.

6:17 Emergency response logistics are interwoven with post disaster communications, and limited by transport to the site, lack of infrastructure and for limited communications bandwidth.

8:00 Combat Camera photographers were on site and able to send images from the field.  Barbara describes how planning processes need to take into account the need for image collection early on.  

8:53 Haiti emergency communications logistics depended closely on post disaster planning. Communicators that collect information or images need to be as self-sustaining as Marines to avoid consuming supplies meant for disaster victims.

12:08 Damage to post disaster infrastructure defines an organization’s ability to capture and send images.  Prolific smart phones become irrelevant if there are no cell towers to link them to satellites.

13:56 Internet and email capability after the Haiti earthquake were based on responding US military ships. Ship-based communications had limited bandwidth and public affairs often had to take second place to disaster communications necessary to recovery efforts.  

21:20 Disaster recovery organizations must collaborate, accept help to staff up quickly, plan carefully and share resources. Heidi argues for putting in place online crisis communications systems to address the overload of requests for information after a disaster.

24:09 End

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About the Podcaster
Eric Schwartzman @EricSchwartzman provides online social media training, social media strategy and social media policy governance to public relations, public affairs, corporate communications and marketing specialists. He has extensive experience integrating emerging information technologies into organizational communications programs through public speaking, hands-on training seminars, consulting and the development of corporate policies on social media usage.

His clients have included Boeing, BYU, City National Bank, Environmental Defense Fund, Government of Singapore, Johnson & Johnson, NORAD Northcomm, Southern California Edison, UCLA, US Dept. of State, United States Army, US Embassy of Athens, the United States Marine Corps and many small to medium-sized companies and agencies.

Eric is the instructor behind PRSA’s top-rated social media and emerging treads training seminars, the Social Media Boot Camp and the Social Media Master Class, which are offered monthly in the US.

His book "Social Marketing to the Business Customer" with Paul Gillin about B2B social media marketing is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Borders.

Greg Williams (gregwilliamspr@gmail.comcom), a marketing communications specialist focused on science and technology, wrote and search engine optimized these show notes.  Greg is a veteran of journalism and public relations, having worked as an editor at the Associated Press, a manager at Fleishman Hilliard Public Relations in New York and as a science editor for two university medical centers.


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