Category Archives: twitter

Qantas Airbus 380 emergency reveals social media challenges

Oh boy, this is what we in crisis communication in the age of citizen journalists and instant social media have been talking about. Today (10 Am Singapore time) a Qantas Airbus 380 mega-carrier on its way to Sydney had an explosion in an engine and made an emergency landing back in Singapore. While the plane was in the air, a passenger sitting at a window above the wing shot video with his cellphone clearly showing the increasing damage to the wing. The pilot can be heard explaining what is going on and what they are doing.

Meanwhile, twitter is going nuts with reports from passengers, including photos, being retweeted all over the place about the emergency landing.

So, here we have high drama being played out in real time with citizen journalists reporting. The question is, what is Qantas doing and how are they responding to the instant news?

Good thing: they have a Facebook page and Twitter account preset which they are using for marketing and customer relations.

Bad thing: They got the initial information completely wrong, they did not (and as of this writing) still have not tweeted anything about it. They did get a statement up on their website but I don’t know how long it took to do that. The statement did correct media reports saying the plane had crashed, however Reuters reported that Qantas told CNBC that the plane had crashed.

The other information they got wrong, according to this post on tnooz is that at the same time that Qantas was telling Australian media that no wreckage from the damage plane was found, there were photos showing up on Twitter (yfrog) that showed people on the island of Batam holding up pieces of wreckage with the Qantas logo on it.

The other thing that Qantas did very right was immediately ground all their brand spanking new Airbus 380s. You don’t want to have engines blowing up on brand new airplanes–actually, you don’t want that on really old airplanes either.

What’s the bottom line? Qantas had done so many things right in terms of preparation, but overall would get probably get a C- to F grade in this event for these reasons:

– they didn’t communicate where the most active, relevant communication was happening–Twitter

– they provided at least some incorrect information early on. Even if I give them the benefit of the doubt and say the Reuters got it wrong, which I suspect, they still denied the existence of aircraft damage when the evidence was pretty clear.

What we have been saying here for a long time is: 1) Be fast or be irrelevant. Given the speed and failure to use Twitter to a large degree their communication became significantly less relevant. 2) Don’t lose credibility by inaccurate information.

What they should have done in the obviously hectic first hour or so of this event, is communicated on Twitter and through their website, Facebook, etc., that they are aware of the incident, they can confirm an engine problem and that as soon as they have additional information they can confirm they will publish it. At least they would have been part of the stream.

Are public agencies adopting Twitter faster than private organizations?

Frequent Crisisblogger contributor Neil Chapman raises this interesting point:
‘When it comes to using social media in a crisis – the public sector has blazed a trail that appears to have left the richer, private sector in their wake.

Los Angeles Fire Department (@lafd) and Public Services of New Hampshire (@psnh) both used Twitter to enhance their response capability.

Now some boys in blue are following suit – Calgary Police (@calgarypolice) in Canada, the FBI press office (@fbipressoffice) in the US and now the UK’s West Midlands Police (@WMPolice) all have Twitter accounts.

Full marks to them for using every means, including social media, for going after criminals.’

Neil Chapman

Twitter and crisis communication–some thoughts from Neil Chapman

My friend Neil Chapman and I were having an interesting discussion yesterday about Twitter and its use as a crisis communication tool. I was discussing some concerns about how it works great if you are independent and have full freedom to communicate without approvals, a vetting process, or if you are not part of a joint response such as occurs in a Joint Information Center. I am working on a White Paper on this and will share it with Crisisblogger readers when it is done.

Neil had some interesting perspectives about other problems with using Twitter which he is sharing with us in this post:

What a difference a year makes, even though the new one is just a few days old.

Britney Spear’s Twitter feed was hacked, according to the UK’s Guardian newspaper.  She’s wasn’t alone. About the same time Apple suffered a similar attack, according to the Huffington Post.

For me – and I assume other crisis communicators – Twitter hit our radar screens in a dramatic way during 2008. In terms of eye-witness reporting, the Mumbai attacks saw Twitter come into its own, according to Forbes. And some individual organizations used Twitter to enhance communications during events they responded to, notably the Los Angeles Fire Department (@LAFD) and Public Service of New Hampshire (@psnh). A fascinating development that crisisblogger highlighted along with other developments involving Twitter.

But Apple and Britney have discovered Twitter can bite them.  As a Twitter user I have to do a lot of work – sign up and into my account , ensure I’m following the right people or organization, regularly check the information stream by scrawling through all my tweets to get what I want – then click somewhere else! There’s some push  but a lot of pulling.

Just last week the Twittersphere was abuzz with a nasty phishing attack. Twitter, as a service, seemed to be caught on the back foot with just a tiny word warning posted on home pages very late on, but that disappeared after a couple of days. On more than one occasion I signed in to be told to come back later. There was too much Twittering going on!

The lesson for me isn’t that organizations like LAFD and PSNH adopted Twitter as a channel to enhance their crisis communications and that it’s a best practice we all need to adopt. What they did is demonstrate they have the right philosophy – of timely, targeted information updates during crises.

The channel itself has shown to be insecure and less than perfect – a bit like Britney really ( though I do like her music).

Neil Chapman

New technologies emerging faster than grandchildren

My fifth grandchild arrived this weekend. A beautiful girl named Eva Katherine–great job Geoff and Amy! Amy went into labor during my nephew’s wedding and Geoff was supposed to be a groomsman for his cousin–he got through the pictures but got called to the hospital two hours before the wedding started. We were text messaging him like crazy during the wedding and the reception to get updates on progress. He got tired of responding to everyone’s text messages so he set up a twitter site. With that, he just text messaged his updates once which went to a website that everyone could access. Use your cell phone to distribute content via a site or RSS feeds.

Just one more example of the rapidly expanding options for communicators to distribute urgent and critical information.

Here’s another change: iphone makes using the web realistic on a phone-sized computer. That’s what it is, really. A computer in your pocket that also works as a phone. But the implications for communication management when you use a web-based platform are critical. Now, vital communication functions can be managed from your phone. Content creation, editing, approvals, distribution, interactive response management, reporting, media monitoring, etc–all done from your phone.

This world keeps changing–faster than a new baby messes her diaper.