Guidelines for the use of new media in crisis situations

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Quick Facts

Publishing Organisation:
Project COSMIC
Covers Thematic
  • Crisis communication Crisis communication is a strategic approach to corresponding with people and organizations during a disruptive event. When a crisis occurs, proactive, quick and detailed communication is critical.</br></br></br>Source:
  • Social Media Strategy A social media strategy is a document outlining your social media goals, the tactics you will use to achieve them and the metrics you will track to measure your progress</br></br>Source:
  • Target audience
  • Civil Society Civil society is a target group in LINKS which comprises citizens, civil society organizations, educational institutions, vulnerable groups, social movement organizations
  • Policy Makers local, national, and European agencies and institutes, public authorities, standardization bodies
  • Practitioners Practitioners is a target group in LINKS which comprises local, national and European disaster management organizations, civil protection agencies, first responders, NGOs, security networks...
  • Audience experience level
  • Starter Those who are not currently using social media, or the current use is based on providing general information and advice to citizens</br></br>Source:
  • Disaster Management Phase
  • Before Comprises 'Preparedness Phase' and 'Prevention Phase'</br></br>Preparedness action is carried out within the context of disaster risk management and aims to build the capacities needed to efficiently manage all types of emergencies and achieve orderly transitions from response to sustained recovery.</br></br>Source:</br></br>Prevention (i.e., disaster prevention) expresses the concept and intention to completely avoid potential adverse impacts of hazardous events.</br></br>Source:
  • During Also referred to as "Response Phase"</br></br>Actions taken directly before, during or immediately after a disaster in order to save lives, reduce health impacts, ensure public safety and meet the basic subsistence needs of the people affected.</br></br>Annotation: Disaster response is predominantly focused on immediate and short-term needs and is sometimes called disaster relief. Effective, efficient and timely response relies on disaster risk-informed preparedness measures, including the development of the response capacities of individuals, communities, organizations, countries and the international community.</br></br>Source:
  • After Also referred to as 'Recovery Phase'</br></br>The restoring or improving of livelihoods and health, as well as economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets, systems and activities, of a disaster-affected community or society, aligning with the principles of sustainable development and “build back better”, to avoid or reduce future disaster risk.</br></br>Source:
  • Synopsis

    The document provides the final guidelines for the Contribution of Social Media in Crisis Management (COSMIC) project.

    The guidelines aim to enhance the safety and security of citizens by supporting both citizens, and public authorities, in their use of social media to complement their crisis management efforts.



    • Develop a social media strategy for all members of your organization
    • Ensure privacy & data protection
    • Prepare for increased communication and information flows during a crisis and take preparations to monitor these information flows
    • Facilitate information sharing by first responders
    • Establish collaboration and communication channels with relevant organizations like (other) public authorities before a crisis
    • Practice the relation between internal and external communication processes regularly
    • Be careful with using participatory actions to increase follower engagement
    • Encourage citizens to support disaster management capacities by using social media when crises occur and provide them with guidance to help fulfil your needs
    • Create awareness for responsible and effective use of social media during crises by citizens and employees
    • Stimulate recognizability of information and ensure continuity
    • Use social media accounts to prepare citizens for high probability hazards and to inform them of the hazards they face


    • Communicate regularly, quickly and with honesty, candor and openness
    • Ensure information reaches your target audience & differentiate in communication channels
    • Ensure clear, effective, to the point communication and continuity
    • Work with others to gain information, encourage the sharing of information and the building of situational awareness
    • Encourage citizens to inform and help others
    • Stimulate the flow of information & add value
    • Be transparent in how you use data and address copyright and privacy issues
    • Ensure information is correct: Verify, Validate and correct (mis)information!
    • Facilitate the (enhanced) communication needs

    Private companies:

    • Monitor and cooperate with the (conventional) channels of crisis communication by public authorities to ensure that communication and advice directed at citizens will be recognized
    • Cooperate with and adapt to emergent group initiatives on social media during crises and encourage citizens to do so, too


    • Direct people to after care initiatives & encourage them to care for each other
    • Elicit resources for the recovery
    • Seek feedback from those you communicated with during a crisis situation



    Prepare yourself for crises


    Ask for help and disclose your location


    Ensure your information is trustworthy


    Participate in the flow of information Volunteer to support emergency services


    Create and stimulate networks Stimulate the networks action potential Mobilize to address crises of societal values Ensure your and others safety


    Ensure a broad scope & consider your communication venue Ensure your information is correct and can be validated or verified Engage ethically in citizen media practices

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