Public Relations Agency Crisis Communications Workflows with Gerald Baron


In this exclusive interview on social media management during a crisis, PIER Systems Founder & CEO Gerald Baron explains the trends in online crisis communications, software public relations firms rely on, and the insatiable quest for speed in the media relations business.

PIER Systems is an on-demand, information management software. PIER Systems differentiates their software by tailoring its offering specifically to the crisis communications objectives of public relations and media relations.

PIER unifies innovative technology and tools in one web-based application to help organizations maintain business continuity while making organizational communications simple and easy.


2:54 — Gerald Baron outlines his presentation on handling crisis communications with public relations software titled “Building Trust in a Threatening Media Environment,” which was delivered at the PRSA International Conference in Detroit.

3:42 — Gerald Brown on the disappearance of news cycles in a hyper-competitive environment based on immediacy. Gerald talks about a reporter who broke news about Hurricane Ike, a Los Angeles Fire Department distributing fire safety information on Twitter, and what it all means for crisis communications.

4:49 — Gerald Baron on the impact of the news media, and people’s insatiable quest for up-to-the-second information, on the business of crisis communications, public relations, and media relations and the inherent risks associated with letting others tell your story for you.

5:43 — Gerald Baron shares his “Ps” of effective online communications, which are: Policy, Plans, People, and Platforms. He also discusses why communicating with incredible speed, and directly to constituents, are critical components to telling your own story in a world without news cycles.

6:36 — Gerald Baron uses the Virginia Tech massacre as an example of why organizations need the ability to handle direct-to-the-public crisis communications with incredible speed, and the role of public relations software in that process.

7:23 — Gerald Baron reveals the key features that a public relations software package should have: a single online control platform; be entirely web-based; exist independently and outside of the organization's IT infrastructure; and be completely controlled by public relations professionals.

8:35 — Gerald Baron discusses the lessons he learned from the Virginia Tech Shootings, one of which is raised expectations for rapid communications directly from organizations. He says the VT shootings underscore that we no longer live in a world in which people can depend on the media for urgent information during an emergency.

9:39 — Gerald Baron explains why stand-alone text notification systems that are not integrated into public relations software platforms are potentially dangerous to PR professionals because they attempt to substitute notifications for communications.

He says research from PIER Systems that he says show outbound notifications drive demand of inbound requests for additional information.

10:53 — Gerald Baron lists the additional modes of communications, like your website or online newsroom, RSS, and email, which are just as important as the instant notifications people now expect to receive from organizations during a catastrophe.

He paints a hypothetical crisis scenario where students get a text message to their phones about some kind of disaster or emergency, jam up the phone lines in search of more information, and then go to the school’s website, which is hopefully built to handle huge numbers of simultaneous incoming requests.

He says the system breaks down when organizations deploy a notification system without fortifying their ability to respond to the increased incoming requests for additional information.

12:02 — Gerald Baron talks about the importance of integration when selecting public relations software to support external communications, and the need for effectiveness and efficiency, particularly at a time when staffing levels are being reduced, and individuals are being asked to do more with less. He also discusses the cost benefits of an integrated public relations software platform.

15:49 — End 

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