Update on Virginia Tech

The situation appears to be heading toward resolution, so it is time for armchair quarterbacking. First, my thoughts and prayers go to everyone at VT for having to endure another nightmare and particularly to the family of the slain officer.

Here are some topline comments I provided Ragan for their story on this event:

– clearly VT learned much about communications from its earlier tragedy and overall seemed well prepared to deal with this.
– Do not know how the campus alert system worked but understand it worked fine.
– They immediately had a website with specific info about the event which replaced their normal website when you hit vt.edu–a very strong improvement
– The NY Times in their first alert about the event noted that they got the info off the VT website–a remarkable indication of the value of having that info available so soon after the event
– Unfortunately, the website often loaded very slowly and at critical times was down–the supplier of the system did not demonstrate crisis capability for an event of this magnitude
– Website was down during a time of critical rumor management when a message went out from @collegiatetimes that said VT was saying the shooting was a rumor–however the website was up soon after and no doubt the info on that helped quickly quell that rumor. See graphic below of the tweet with the rumor.
– VT also provided web access to the news conference they held soon after the shooting–the timing of the news conference, the tone, the message from the president were all appropriate and effective

Bottom line–the story of this event was told largely on social media as this Mashable story makes clear, including initial tweets by USA Today. But VT, with the exception of a shaky web platform, from my perspective did a good job of providing the information they had in very rapid and continuous fashion.




Patrice Cloutier collected many good stories about this including this summary from mashable about how social media told the story of this, starting from the first tweet from USA Today.

And if you want to know what it feels like to be in a lockdown at VT during a frightening incident like this, thanks Doug, here is a link to a video on YouTube as presented on Patch.
It’s now becoming familiar:

– news is told primarily by social media
– news media use SM and (thanks to fast work) VT website for info (see previous post for word cloud on twitscoop going crazy with this incident)
– rumor management is job one
– broadcast your own press conference rather than let the media select only the portions they want