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DC Fire Communications Director @wallscomm says “Social Media is for parties.” So Let’s Party!

The headline is astonishing to read given how much the emergency management community has gravitated toward using social media to achieve various goals, most especially in communicating with the public. Heck, @LAFD is recognized as being the first government organization to join Twitter (four years ago) and even a quick Google search for “emergency management social networking” brings back 50 million results including case studies, presentations and news reports about how emergency management agencies are using social tools and tactics.

The following post is republished here with permission from LocalGovChat.com’s Mike Rupert. I was just so flabbergasted to read the story and so impressed with Mike’s response that I wanted to share. His original post appears here.

When I read the recent comments from new DC Fire ad EMS Communications Director Lon Walls in the DCist this evening my jaw literally hit the floor. Here is the quote:

“Social media is for parties. We ain’t givin’ parties.” – Lon Walls, via @dcist_updates

With all of the ink given to debunk this antiquated mindset – especially in DC over the past two years with #snowmageddon, hurricanes, earthquakes – you’d think that a professional communicator would be the last person to utter those words.

But rather than ridicule and staying in the spirit of “If you get it, share it,” I thought we’d throw a little something for Mr. Walls.

And if we’re going to have a social media party, you’ve gotta invite some folks. So who is in?

1. FEMA is in. And they’re bringing Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Twitter. FEMA Director Craig Fugate had other plans but decided, “We can adjust much quicker if we can figure out how to have this two-way conversation and if we can look at the public as a resource. The public is putting out better situational awareness than many of our own agencies can.”

2. The Red Cross has RSVP’d. Four of five (80 percent) of the general and 69 percent of the online populations surveyed believe that national emergency response organizations should regularly monitor social media sites in order to respond promptly. And it turns out Red Cross will be coming with LAFD.

3. The Los Angeles Fire Department is bringing 2 guests: @lafdtalk and @LAFD_CERT_BATT5.

4. The National Fire Protection Association wouldn’t miss it. They’re pushing all of their friends to come too.

5. The Seattle Police Department is in the house.

6. New York City will be there.

7. Lodi Police Department (New Jersey) will be there. They might check their twitter feed to get situational awareness before they come like they did during Irene though.

8. You can count on Emergency Management – the award-winning, all-hazards publication of record for emergency management” – to be the first to arrive.

9. And I know it can be expensive to throw a party. So the Crisis Commons folks have volunteered to help out.

10. We’ve also got a poster for the “get together.” Click it to enlarge.

Feel free to invite others in the comments section.

Disclosure: I am a former communications director with the DC Government and helped lead the development of the city’s original social media strategy and launched the city’s first Twitter account @dcra and trained several others in effective use of these tools.

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