Policies and Procedures

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Reference Groups Policies and procedures, Emergency Preparation

The Policies and procedures Reference Group will be managing the development of content for this section and will be a point of contact for questions or help.

If you have policies and procedures for using social media in emergency communications, please contact the Reference Group so that together we can adapt them to develop generic policies and procedures guidelines for use by everyone. Also, (if you have permission), please link to them in "Examples'. Please feel free to add content to help develop this section.



While Web 2.0 and social media can greatly enhance communications during emergency and crisis situations, agencies must take care to use online media wisely to ensure effective communication during these times and to protect their own reputations.

A well-researched and clearly documented social media and online emergency communication policy and set of procedures should be developed to prepare agencies for such situations. These policies and procedures should be part of an overall emergency communication plan.

Please note: It is recommended that these policies and procedures be developed in consultation with your key stakeholders and should always be tailored to the specific needs and objectives of your organisation. A generic template for social media policy or procedures should never be used.

Online Emergency Communication Policy and Procedures

• Provides a clear set of guidelines for all staff and other key stakeholders to follow in an emergency situation;

• Identifies roles and responsibilities of each member of the emergency communication response team and the rest of staff in relation to online engagement during these times;

• Determines online interaction procedures between agencies during these times;

• Establishes an online communication approval process to ensure the release of timely information in line with the rules of social media and online engagement.

To whom does an Online Emergency Communication Policy apply?

It applies to all employees and contractors of the organisation in crisis and to any other person who is notified that this policy applies to them.

Who benefits from having Online Emergency Communication policies and procedures in place?

• Organisation staff;

• Key organisation stakeholders including related agencies, politicians, media; and

• Communities affected by the emergency/crisis.

These policies and procedures are important for all organisations and agencies in the:

• emergency services sector;

• government sector;

• community sector;

• education sector;

• health sector; and

• business.

Things to consider when preparing Online Emergency Communication Policies and Procedures

• Know your organisation. List potential emergencies specific to your organisation - eg. Fire, train derailment, product recall etc.

• Choose social media platforms to suit the needs of the community and stakeholders of each potential crisis. These platforms must have wide reach and provide real time results eg. Facebook, Twitter, You Tube. More targeted platforms could be used for some key stakeholders.

• Set up these platforms well in advance and ensure they are well populated and working efficiently.

• Determine who your moderators and online facilitators will be during these times. Ensure they are approved by senior management and well trained in these roles.

• List the roles and responsibilities of all members of the Emergency Communication Response Team. Have back up team members in place in case some are unavailable due to an inability to contact, being on leave or illness.

• Identify who has the authority to ensure an immediate response.

• Identify key online media spokesperson.

• Determine the rules and consequences for staff online engagement during these emergency times.

• Ensure a balance of internal versus external online communication. Use tools such as Yammer.

• How will this online communication structure expand and contract during the phases of the crisis.

• Always protect your organisation’s privacy.

• Remember general rules of social media still apply.

• Consider using pre-prepared responses to alleviate hold ups in approval processes.

• Determine response times and number of posts to be made per day.

• Consider tone and empathy in comments.

• Decide where you will direct your online communities to access the most up to date information.

Recommended Flow Charts and Checklists:

• Itemised task list of each member of the Emergency Communication Response Team

• Communication approval process flow chart

• Protocols for response

• Case studies


International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Social media guidelines for IFRC staff via Social media policy database (see References & Links)

American Red Cross Social Media Handbook for Local Red Cross Unitsvia Social media policy database (see References & Links)

Case Studies

Additional Policies and Procedures Guidelines by Sector

Emergency Sector Policies and Procedures

Government Sector Policies and Procedures

Community Sector Policies and Procedures

Education Sector Policies and Procedures

Health Sector Policies and Procedures

Business Sector Policies and Procedures

References and Links

Emergency 2.0

Business as Usual

Personal tools