3. Ensure clear, effective, to the point communication and continuity

To enhance the clarity of information and increase its uptake the symbols used in crisis communication must clearly relate to the crises addressed and/ or be iconic or common. This is increasingly so when such symbols and language are used in a consistent manner and by all relevant parties. So it’s important to try and join existing practices to ensure continuity.

Key steps: 
  • Use the same canonical symbols and icons in communicating crisis information as used when issuing warnings.
  • Adapt to broadly accepted language and symbols that other relevant parties use.
  • Use existing, canonical Twitter hashtags for specific crisis situations rather than creating your own
    • Identify and determine which hashtags officials use in the crisis/ are well established.
    • Use the same hashtags and promote the use of these hashtags to facilitate information sharing.
    • Otherwise create unique, compact and simple hashtags.

The Pacific Disaster Center uses the same symbols for warning and actual crises - the difference is indicated by the colour of the circle around it.

During the 2011 floods in Queensland, Australia the hashtag #qldfloods rapidly emerged as a central mechanism for coordinating discussion and information exchange related to the floods, leading several official sources such as the Queensland Police Service (OPS) to quickly adopt the #qldfloods hashtag for their own tweets. The QPS even amended its social media strategy: they started using Twitter rather than Facebook in lieu of some difficulties stemming from the Facebook medium.

Alternative hashtags such as #bnefloods and #thebigwet did not become equally prominent established. Most likely as Twitter users were trying not to fragment the conversation, but establish one official hashtag.


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