FIR Interview: Melissa Agnes and Gerard Braud debate “going dark” with social media in a crisis

Crisis headlines

Social media has become a standard component of crisis communication efforts.

In an August 6 blog post, crisis communications and media training consultant Gerard Braud of Braud Communications argued that there could be crisis situations in which institutions would be best served by taking down their Facebook page or other social media outposts.

Looking at the flood of negative, critical, and even outrageous comments left to Emory Healthcare’s Facebook page after the hospital began treating an Ebola victim, Braud concluded, “Sometimes in a crisis, you may find that it is in your best interest to rely on conventional crisis communications tools. It may be better to take your social media sites down completely until the crisis is over. If people need information, they are smart enough to find it on your primary website.”

Melissa Agnes, president and co-founder of Agnes+ Day, a crisis intelligence consultancy, took exception in a response on her own blog. “Social media presents so many powerful opportunities to communicate and build trusting relationships with your audiences,” Agnes wrote. “Just because people may vent and lash out against your organization is not a reason to hide and refuse to communicate on the channels that demand communication these days. Doing so will only hurt your organization’s reputation.”

Braud and Agnes engaged in a very professional conversation in the comments sections of their posts. In this interview, FIR co-host Shel Holtz talks with both crisis experts about their points of view, where they agree and where they differ, the role of social media generally in a crisis, and how that role could vary depending on the nature of the organization and its social media presence.

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About our Conversation Partner

Melissa AgnesMelissa Agnes, President and co-founder of Agnes + Day Inc., has developed an international reputation for crisis management, planning and training. Her client list includes government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, the healthcare industry, the oil and gas industry and a wide range of public, private and not-for-profit organizations.

A sought-after speaker on the topics of crisis and issues management in this digital age, Melissa travels the world speaking to audiences including NATO, GCC, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Ministries of Defence, Oil and Gas Associations and more.

Melissa is the editor of the highly-acclaimed Crisis Intelligence Blog, and the host of the globally-recognized Crisis Intelligence Podcast.

Gerard Braudgerard_braud is a 20-year veteran in the field of crisis communications. Prior to that, he spent 15 years as a journalist.

He prides himself not on the crises he’s managed after they went public, but through the vast number of events that never reached the crisis level. His strategy is to help organizations write an effective crisis communications plan on a clear sunny day so they can communicate at their best on their darkest day.

Gerard is author of a crisis communications blog.

  • Reach Gerard on Twitter at @gbraud.

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This FIR Interview is brought to you with Lawrence Ragan Communications, serving communicators worldwide for 35 years. Information:

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(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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