Massive thanks for being one of the first to put your hand up, registering via the website and providing us details about your communication experiences. It is heart warming that others feel a “better way” is possible.
While it’s a tad “benefit of hindsight” on my part, I do hope this way forward is showing we are willing to provide leadership in the communications space and to be there when our state needs us. Personally, I sat at home last Saturday morning wondering what on earth I could do other than share posts with my own networks (which are extensive sure…). It was a frustrating moment where I felt “lost”. When the Facebook page popped up asking for help, it was a sign that yes, the community wants more and I jumped in to help. All credit to Ali Mitchell for her Facebook page that has now reached over 1.5million views. One of my own posts on the page reached over 125,000 people within 24 hours. Impressive stats.
Credit where credit is due of course – but they weren’t communication professionals and there were issues that cropped up due to the lack of experience. It prompted my decision to act on a register of communication professionals. Hence why we are here today.
I spoke with Andrew Reimer, Talk Back Host on FIVEaa this week on-air about the infiltration of social media Facebook pages and groups that lit up as soon as the South Australian Fires heated up. I rang in – it wasn’t a planned call. For the analogy of what I was talking about we can use something like his talk back radio… During the conversation he asked me why I was suggesting we needed more than just the official CFS and SAPOL Facebook pages for information. Put simply “why did we need these other pages that cropped up? The expectation was surely the official pages would be enough?”
Well no… I explained humans don’t work that way as we are social – and social media is just that – social. We listen to more than news. We chat and start conversations about things we hear. We ring talk back shows about our opinions to help solve problems of the world. We talk about what we hear at the pub, with friends, and we share them on Facebook and have a bit chat about them.
It’s called community engagement as you know!
Social media gives us the ability to spread our word, messages or opinion further – and to hear more. In a crisis we are no different. More so – the need becomes immediate and not programmed.
As I saw a community member on Facebook say:
Faye “media is general request .. Fb pages are immediate direct effect…”
Hence why the pages and groups were popular. They shared more than news; they gave hope, answered questions and solved problems during the crisis (they still are as at 08/01/2015).
My personal hope is that SAPOL and the CFS learn from this and we see their pages act this way next time (conversationally). But even if they did – they would need to ramp up their staffing levels to stay on top of things. The page I was involved in had 18 administrators to keep it going 24/7. Staff in a regular day job can ramp up sure – but not to sustain 24/7 for days at a time. They need help.
I will be alerting authorities about the register of communication professionals who are willing to volunteer their time. In particular, I am hoping VolunteeringSA call on it when they need.
Thank you for taking the time to register. Thank you for offering to be there when we are needed. As I said on the registration page… I don’t want us to go into another crisis with doubt.
If you know of others, please encourage them to register.
EXTRACT FROM SA.GOV.AU
Community activity on social media
A number of community groups are coordinating fundraisers, donations and other assistance for those affected by the bushfire. You can find more information at the below Facebook pages. These pages are not endorsed by the government, but may be a useful resource.