PR Innovation of the Year 2011

Sponsored by HP

?Winner: Weber Shandwick: FireBell: A Social Crisis Simulator

A PR crisis can spread at light speed over social media. If PR pros are going to use social media to promote their clients, they also need to know how to use it to put out fires.

Weber Shandwick set out to simulate a crisis on social media and prepare its clients on how to combat it. In-house Weber software developers teamed with the agency's social media strategists to build FireBell.

The tool allows users to practice their messaging skills across multiple social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn, and YouTube, while a simulated communications crisis unfolds on fictitious websites.

"FireBell offers a unique tool for PR crisis management," commented one judge. "The initial response appeared to be very enthusiastic on the benefits of this innovation."

During the drill, the tool projects images that look exactly like an organization's social media profile. In addition, as the drill is underway, clients are able to evaluate the conversation and brainstorm on how to engage. The fictitious website can be updated in real time.

"This is a truly unique innovation," one judge said. "It has solid application to the PR industry."

After the drill is complete, an analysis is provided, along with recommendations for how to improve crisis responses, tactics, and practices. Weber, who says a number of its global clients are interested in FireBell, is preparing to roll out the tool to these organizations.

"Very clever tool, which should have a positive impact on dealing with crisis in social media," added another judge.

Honorable Mention
: Proof Integrated Communications/ Burson-Marsteller: Reverb Makes Waves for Issue Advocacy

Burson-Marsteller wanted to be able to deploy a website for its clients briskly, especially for customers that are often challenged by a new piece of legislation or issue. After all, building a website from scratch, for example, while raising awareness and support, can be time consuming. After some research, Burson concluded that a rapidly deployable website was missing in the PR services market. Enter Reverb, an online platform by Proof Integrated Communications/Burson-Marsteller, to develop a fully functional site that can launch within 72 hours. One client to employ Reverb was Iran180, a group assembled to form a unified voice to demand a "180- degree turn" by Iran's government on its pursuit of nuclear weapons and its treatment of its citizens. "Speed is vital with issues advocacy," one judge noted. "This tool delivers the goods."

The Award
Open to agencies, service companies, corporate teams, nonprofits, and other organizations, this award recognizes the best technology-based solution or new service launched during the 12-month eligibility period that shows a lasting impact on the practice of PR.

Finalists 2011

Euro RSCG Worldwide PR: The Sisterhood

Kaplow Communications: Kaplow's Kstudio Digital Innovation Propels PR Industry Forward

Proof Integrated Communications/Burson-Marsteller: Reverb Makes Waves for Issue Advocacy

WCG: The WCG Influencer Meme Application

Weber Shandwick: FireBell: A Social Crisis Simulator

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