Given the amount of crisis communications and similar work I often do, I’m a big fan of training, so when a crisis hits we are prepared. Just as important as training though is having a checklist to work from when the task requires quick action.

Author Deirdre Breakenridge advocates using a checklist when creating a social media strategy as part of a “PR 2.0” effort. Below are the action items she believes should be part of such a checklist:

  • Ask the question, “Why social media and what are we expecting to get out of engaging in the social sphere.”
  • Develop a social media policy
  • Which executives will participate in the program and determine the their time commitment
  • Share the policy with members of your organizations (build internal brand champions by establishing a participatory culture)
  • Set up monitoring and tracking of your brand, products and any trends that relate to your market (via free tools and paid software)
  • Listen to conversations in various social networks to see if your customers or other stakeholders are active in those communities and to pinpoint conversations relevant to your brand
  • Continue to observe communities for culture and interaction between community members
  • Identify who are the important influencers you would like to reach (from A-list bloggers to trendsetters and the magic middle) and what issues concern them
  • Decide who in the organization is going to manage information and direct continuous conversations and relationships (a community manager or social media manager)
  • Dissect information gathered in communities and share with other members/departments in your organization
  • Process the information within your organization and use it to provide insight and feedback in communities (and to also develop your communication strategy and content to share) or to place back into your product development cycle to enhance your offering for customers.
  • Determine a measurement strategy for engagement (participation could include leads/sales, conversations, registration, membership, education, authority, etc.)
  • Think about your budget and resources before you start your social media program.

These are all valid points for a checklist in the new world of new media communications. And in the middle of a crisis, it’s a great way to answer the question, “Where do we start?”