Tag Archives: social networks

The Value of An Established Social Network In Times of Crisis



Brother can you spare a boat?

It took four hour for the Atlanta Fire Department (AFD) to get their rescue personnel into a rescue boat during recent flooding in the city – as AFD  floundered smack dab in the middle of one of the wealthiest zip codes in the city, if not the entire country.

Four hours to acquire a boat in a portion of a city where people have likely dozens of boats, of a vast variety, idling in backyard garages. Dozens. Just minutes away from a flooded creek from which people needed immediate rescuing.

According to The Sunday Paper, when AFD went broke during this recession they were forced to sell the only rescue boat they owned before the big flood of September 2009.

So be it. If you need a boat in 30327 and you can’t put out a plea to any number of neighbors and citizens nearby, in a time of crisis, who would gladly and urgently have offered a boat to assist in the rescue of neighbors and fellow citizens in the Internet Age, then that’s a sorry state of communication – a state of communication that illuminates just how critical it is that our social networks include, and overlap with, government entities and the people they serve and seek to assist. And vice versa.

During the flooding the week of September 20, 2009 in Atlanta there was almost no interruption to communication infrastructure such as cellular networks and Internet services.

Had anyone on the fire department rescue team asked any 30327 resident, bystander, onlooker or neighbor to help locate a boat, chances are someone could have stood right by the rising creek, whipped out a phone (smart kind or othewise) and called someone to assist with the immediate loan of an appropriate boat.

A 30327 resident might have sent out an urgent request on a neighborhood message board for a boat. Someone could have used their Twitter (and the #atlflood hashtag) or Facebook network to locate a boat.

If the Atlanta Fire Department had built their own Twitter and/or Facebook social network of citizens of the areas of Atlanta they serve, AFD could have used that network, immediately, to locate and acquire a boat — within the hour of need I’d guess.

But first you must, of course, HAVE a social network to ask things of and to utilize in times  of crisis! It’s not that the fire department did not have a boat to call their own; rather they could not get their hands on ANY boat for four hours… while they were surrounded in a sea of possible boats.

I recently witnessed a local Atlanta social network jump into action to assist an elderly neighbor who was discovered living without water service for over a year. Once people in the neighborhood became aware of the neighbor’s plight, and what was needed to help the situation, an entire community and social network kicked in to serve and assist. Virtually instantly. All because one email was sent to an established social network. In that particular case, a network created via a simple, free Yahoo! Message Board/group.

In times of crisis, people want to serve. People will serve and assist in whatever way, small or large, that they are capable of. Any disaster scenario has proved that over and over again.

But it takes communication to let people know what exactly is needed to kick-start our inherent sense of service. And it takes leadership. And it takes foresight.

Now, especially in a deep recession, it very well may take an established social network. Because a social network is comprised of all kinds of people – people who are willing and able and eager to serve…  in most cases.

In the case of severe flooding, your social network may very well have just the boat you need… if you ask that of your network.

The Death of PR. The Rise Of The Network.


The days of hiring a PR firm to print you up some super nice cards, letters and other dead-tree products, write-up a whimsical, mostly phoney press release about your event, launch or product… whatever it is you’ve got going on, and then having that PR firm’s interns send it out to “The Media” are over.

Gone, and likely forgotten before long. Having worked in newsrooms through the years, and being on the receiving-end of some lovely and creative media packets and timely press releases, I can’t tell you how quickly the trash cans fill up with all that lovely dead-tree stuff anyway. Pity really.

Rising from the ashes of the demise of traditional PR is something along the line of Net Party. I shot some video at last night’s monthly Atlanta Net Party (hope to post some here soon), met the founder, Jeff, and realized that not only was this a face-to-face networking event with hundreds of lovely, talented people packing the line to get in at Buckhead’s Tongue & Groove, it was a data-dive of a social media mashup. There was something in this event for Kaneva, Concept Hub, Brand Atlanta, and everyone who showed for the yummy free food and $5 martinis.

Of course I Twittered throughout the event, as did Amani Channel. And I woke-up to… not some gorgeous stranger, alas, but seven nine new Twitter followers in my InBox. That stream here:

Crazy person zooming around parking deck in a gorgeous vintage Mercedes. WTF?

Boy does the ATL singles scene sure beat a night of TV. These folk are impossibly gorgeous.  

DJ must be ready to assume duties. The disco ball is now on.   

@jimstroud tearing UP the dance floor! Well kinda.  

Hanging with Amani. Life is always ok that way.

oh for chrissake. Nice guy hands me his card. I try to read a/out my reading glasses. It’s was upside down!   

Anyone at Net Party wanna do shooters with a 40-something soccer mom? Like just one?

There are hundreds of people at @idealist Net Party shindig. A long way from our 7 ATL blogger meetups 3 yrs ago!

at Net Party at Tongue & Groove. Packed! Reminds me of 80’s Limelight meat market scene!

I’ll write-up more about this soon, about how this one event will morph into many exciting new ventures and adventures. Right now, I’ve got to go work on the video! One note about casting the Net Party promotions & sponsorship net even wider… If I owned a luxury car dealership, such as the one just down the street on Piedmont from Tongue & Groove (where last night’s social networking event was held), hint hint Mercedes of Buckhead, I’d have sent a least 2 comely reps. And parked one of my pretty toys right out front too.

One questions though… why in the world would anyone use the word “tongue” in their business enterprise? It’s really not a very attractive word. Feh.

UPDATE: Video of the NetParty event is above, or click here.

At What Point Do Social Networks Become Valuable?


An odd thing happened while online (and doing laundry) this morning. First, just like a lover you can’t quit, after swearing, as Leonard Witt did too about panel discussions and papers, that I’d never read yet another article about the death of the dead-tree news industry (newspapers), I of course read a remarkable one; it really was different, I swear!

The author focused on the writer – and the importance of branding the writer, with a focus on the writer/reporter’s “leadership” roles and responsibility… in the online environment at least. Here’s a glimpse from the catchy titled, It’s Time For The Newspaper Industry To Die:

Newspapers employ some of the best writers in their communities. They ought to be treating those writers as the valuable assets they are, and providing them the same level of credit on their stories that top bloggers take on their posts. Where are the mugshots, the links to biographies and to other stories written by the same author? That information isn’t there just to stroke a writer’s ego; it should be there to help establish that writer’s credibility with a potentially global online audience.

While reading this article about shifting roles and focus, I simultaneously received, via email, the first-ever promo from a cameraman – one who has been working in the broadcast news industry for over 30 years. His quick note touted an excellent series that he’d been DP on: profiles about an extraordinary person. I doubt I would have ever watched the series on Big TV though, had he not taken the time to email me and tell me about it, and his work shooting the series. (It will air April 9th. You can preview here.)

Yet just now, April 5, 2008, was when this one network cameraman chose to tap into his vast personal network to illuminate his work in an industry where he’s considered at the very top of the profession. Maybe he never realized just how vast his social network was? More likely though… he never realized how valuable it was!

Likely no one in the network’s news management ever thought to consider it valuable, either. That this one cameraman, out of droves of support & ENG types, each fully equipped with unique, valuable social networks, was sitting right under their noses. (Moreorless the same premise that makes me say I’d never hire someone who wasn’t blogging, but let’s stay on-topic here.)

Consider too that this cameraman had been layed-off by his network two years ago! Who needs 30 years experience in the TV industry? Get ’em off the books. Fast! He is now out on his own, trying to earn a living on his own while doing what he’s done all his life. And still working for the ‘net that layed him off.  Go figure that. (He’s still in the union too. I wonder if he had to get permission from a shop steward to email the promo around?! But let’s, again, stay on topic.)

Once the blanket of job security, and with it a sometimes dogged complacency, is taken away from people, it’s amazing how fast they begin to reach out to shore-up and build-out their personal social networks. Indeed, you could argue that their very survival is now utterly dependent on doing just that. Or woe to the person who fails to do so. Their employment prospects will be just that much less.

I seriously doubt newspaper management has ever  been “hungry” enough to look for value in social network leadership. Broadcast news management either. I say lay-off a few more upper management types. Let ’em develop and grow and troll their own social networks for a while. Only then will we begin to see more of what the author of “It’s TIme For The Newspaper Industry To Die” wrote about begin to happen.

And maybe in a couple of years, that clued-in cameraman will hire THEM back!