Grayson Daughters and Tessa Horehled talk using Twitter hashtags in crisis communication and disaster relief during the Atlanta, Georgia flood of September 2009. #atlflood
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Charlotte, NC communications blogger, Andria Krewson, took time out to notice the way we Atlantans used Twitter as a crisis communications tool in the flooding situation yesterday. And how a trending topic on Twitter is quickly spammed by jerks too, making Twitter a dubious crisis communications tool – at the trending phase at least.
Just as the TV news stations will have “EVEN MORE” coverage throughout the day, online communications gurus will continue to use Twitter throughout this ongoing natural disaster in Georgia.
Flooding in Atlanta: One Search To Bind Them All
About 6 a.m. Monday, Steve Burns, a freelance journalist near Atlanta, sent out a note on Twitter:
“WSB: Boil water advisory in Douglas County. #atlfloods”
An hour later, Atlanta blogger Grayson Hurst Daughters tweeted from her @spaceyg account:
“Atlanta commuters: use the hashtag #atlflood for Atlanta flood condition notices.”
She followed up quickly with a note to a local TV outlet:
“@11AliveNews, please consider using the hashtag #atlflood in your Tweets! That way all the notices can be indexed/RSS’d. Tx!”
The tag set the tone for an organized, findable stream of aggregated content that helped Atlantans and their friends stay informed as the rain kept falling, killing at least 6 people, swamping interstates and causing major delays at the airport. The Georgia governor declared a state of emergency in 17 counties.
We’ve all read posts about how Twitter provides immediate coverage of earthquakes or bloody election fallout. But this moment showed how a social media tool enabled aggregation of all local news coverage through one search, quickly, in a large city, for breaking news.
Individuals shared links to stories from the established local news outlets quickly throughout the day. And a picture on Twitpic of flooding on Atlanta’s downtown connector received more than 60,000 views in about 10 hours.
Considering it a victory for untrained “citizen journalism” might be a bit misleading. Burns has newspaper experience from California, Georgia and Florida, and Daughters is a writer and corporate communication professional who worked for ABC News for six years. Also heavily involved was Tessa Horehled, a strategic marketer who advises companies about social media plans. Tweeting at @driveafastercar, she braved the rain with a video camera numerous times throughout the day from her neighborhood, and posted pictures late into the evening as a creek approached her front door.