If you are on the East Coast, you’re probably digging yourself out of the first big snowstorm of the year. Here in Wilmington, we got well over a foot of snow and social media was on fire from Virginia up to New England talking about Snowstorm Jonas and its effects across the East Coast.
If you manage social media accounts for your business, I highly recommend hopping on the “bad weather” bandwagon and updating your social media platforms with news and pictures about the weather event, even if it does not directly relate to your business. I have found that media outlets have increasingly been hyping up the possibility of bad weather more and more, and you can use that to your advantage.
When a big storm hits, snow, flooding and wind all hamper the media’s ability to get to every corner of their coverage area. Here’s where you come in: Have you noticed local news channels will ask members of the public to send in photos of the storm near them and then broadcast it during storm coverage? It’s the easiest, quickest way to get the most up-to-date information on the storm.
Here’s some tips to ensure your company or organization can leverage a weather event into a PR success:
1. Find the trending hashtags and use them in all of your posts: In Delaware, it was #stormDE; in New Jersey, it was largely #blizzard2016 and #Jonas. Weave these into your posts so both regular social media users and the media can find them when searching for storm-related updates. (Caveat: Don’t use too many hashtags, this is a pet peeve of mine.)
2. Pay attention to media-related hashtags, too: I live in the Philadelphia media market and 6 ABC news anchors must have said, “Send your pictures to us with #6ABCSnow” at least once per minute. The result? A large portion of their newscast was images from all over their coverage area – Cape May to the Poconos – showing the wind, rain, flooding and snow damage. I represent a property management company in New Jersey, and we hashtagged one of our photos #6ABCSnow and it played on air, with a news anchor even mentioning how great it was that the complex already cleared some walkways. Boom! Easy PR across the whole viewing area!
3. Share other posts liberally and in real time: When people lose power (like many did in this storm), they turn to social media for the latest. And if they know your platform will basically serve as a curator for the latest news, they’ll keep coming back to you. In Delaware, I work with a coalition of organizations that care about keeping Delaware’s waterways clean by investing in infrastructure and other programs that would improve water quality. From Wilmington down to Lewes, we shared media coverage all weekend on our Facebook page. And, of course, we peppered in tips about how to ensure you don’t put toxic substances down your storm drains when using snow melt and highlighted how clean water infrastructure would help reduce flooding. To date, a couple of these posts have been some of the most popular on our page.
4. Stay Safe: If you don’t have electric yourself, don’t run the battery down on your phone unless you know you can charge it back up. You may want a picture of that 20 foot wave at the beach, but don’t get so close to the shoreline that you are in harm’s way! Safety first!