There is a critical factor in crisis communications that is often overlooked—photos and video. On the View from the Bridge blog, Bill Salvin wrote a post about the importance of images and offered some advice on how to take advantage of the power of imagery. As he puts it, images are everything.
"People post more than 300 million photos a day to Facebook alone, and 70% of all actions on social media involve images." -Bob Lisbonne of TechCrunch
Journalists and the social media universe will fill the void if an organization doesn't provide images in some form. And once an image is planted in people's minds, it's difficult to change that image. According to Salvin,
"Most crisis plans don't provide for a process for gathering, clearing and disseminating 'official' company images during adverse events. Your next crisis, like it or not, will be visual. This is the new reality."
He says that organizations need to be able to answer these questions with a "Yes":
- Do we have a timeline and streamlined process for releasing official images?
- Do we have a process for getting that image through approval?
- Do we have a process for getting the image onto our website or company Facebook page?
- Do we have a photographer and videographer who can be available?
Crisis communications response staff can also prepare ahead of time by assembling a library of images for common scenarios, which they can swiftly disseminate even before they have in-the-moment photos or video. It might be challenging to think of images for a crisis that hasn't yet occurred, but it's possible.
News media are prepared with pre-written obits of celebrities, so they can immediately react to a death. In a similar fashion, organizations can be ready to immediately provide images that pre-empt those from social media and news media.