Extra Credit Blog
In recent classes, we’ve discussed the important role of public relations professionals in the heat of a crisis involving a client. When a crisis occurs, the public relations practitioner must rationally handle the situation for the company or organization in order to maintain a positive reputation depicted through the media. An article in the Public Relations Strategist, titled “Prison Break: The Truth About Crisis Communications in a Social World, presents tactics used to influence the public’s opinion about law enforcement in when a crisis occurs.
After a 23-day manhunt for two convicts that escaped from a high-security correctional facility in New York, law enforcers got serious backlash from the media as people shared articles about false information regarding the story through social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. Agency help was provided to by virtual operations support teams (VOST), a group of trained citizen volunteers who refer to themselves as “trusted agents.” These teams were utilized to monitor law enforcement situations by looking for public confusion or miscommunication through the media, and help officers spread official news to the public. Groups involved in VOST, among other crisis communication agencies, are vital in situations, especially as scandalous as escaped convicts, to help keep the media in line and prevent further public panic.