On The Record Online

Social media crisis simulator Firebell, which was recently introduced by PR giant Weber Shandwick, is providing crisis communications training for companies keen to avoid critical missteps in an online brand crisis. In this installment of the On the Record...Online pr podcast, Weber Shandwick VP Brooke Worden joins guest host Sandra Burrowes to give us a glimpse of FireBell’s realism and effectiveness, attributes that recently earned the social media crisis tool a 2010 Digital PR Award for best new digital service/product/app.

Creating a social crisis drill that replicates the urgency of an online attack has been a challenge for PR professionals. For this reason, FireBell’s social media attack simulator is intentionally designed to be stress-producing. Worden highlights the unscripted nature of a social crisis—real or simulated—and the choices companies are forced to make while such an event unfolds.

Using FireBell, realistic scenarios compel company communicators to respond to a crisis in real time. Users are able to tweet, post to Facebook and post video to YouTube in response to unfolding events yet do so in a secure, off-the-Internet environment. A class-action lawsuit, a damaging video by an employee, product recall or a fatal accident at a company facility are real-world brand emergencies that happen every day and typical of a FireBell scenario. The goal following a social crisis drill is to debrief the event and combine it with post-drill feedback to forge a realistic, experience-based crisis communications plan.

Brooke Worden, VP Financial Services with Weber Shandwick Minneapolis, led the recent U.S. Census Bureau public relations campaign, working with more than 50 employees in six Weber Shandwick offices nationwide.


Based in Minneapolis/St. Paul, @SandraBurrowes is an independent marketing and public relations professional specializing in strategy, media relations and social media management for the business-to-consumer market. Sandra partners with companies and organizations to shape their brands, improve their reputations and maximize their relationships with target audiences. She is an associate with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

These podcast show notes were written and optimized by @SandraBurrowes.

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