PR Agency Develops Social Crisis Media Simulation App


Public relations agency Weber Shandwick, has developed a social media crisis management simulator called FireBell to provide crisis management training for in-house public relations and corporate communications staffers to avoid critical missteps in crisis management.

In this podcast, Weber Shandwick VP of public relations Brooke Worden joins guest host Sandra Burrowes to give us a glimpse of FireBell’s realism and effectiveness, attributes that recently earned the social media crisis simulation tool a 2010 Digital PR Award for best new digital service/product/app.

Creating a social crisis drill that replicates the urgency of an online attack has been a challenge for PR professionals. For this reason, FireBell’s social media attack simulator is intentionally designed to be stress-producing. Worden highlights the unscripted nature of a social crisis—real or simulated—and the choices companies are forced to make while such an event unfolds.

Using FireBell, realistic scenarios compel company communicators to respond to a crisis in real-time.

Users can tweet, post to Facebook and post videos to YouTube in response to unfolding events, yet do so in a secure, off-the-Internet environment.

A class-action lawsuit, a damaging video by an employee, a product recall, or a fatal accident at a company facility are real-world brand emergencies that happen every day and are typical of a FireBell crisis management scenario.

The goal following a social crisis drill is to debrief the event and combine it with post-drill feedback to forge a realistic, experience-based crisis communications plan.

Brooke Worden, VP Financial Services with Weber Shandwick Minneapolis, led the recent U.S. Census Bureau public relations campaign, working with over 50 public relations agency professionals nationwide in six Weber Shandwick PR agency offices.


Based in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Sandra Burrowes specializing in strategy, media relations and social media management at the Mayo Clinic.

She is an associate with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

Sandra Burrowes, Senior Public Affairs Specialist at Mayo Clinic, wrote and optimized these podcast show notes.

Photo by Josep Castells on Unsplash

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