Last week, CBRpr tweeted how a Ukrainian government adviser used Facebook to communicate about the plane tragedy. It got me thinking about how pundits predicted that social media would unite the world. That it would bring people together. That it would bring peace.
As a member of IPREX, an international consortium of top PR firms, we’ve seen firsthand how regular contact with our fellow worldwide members can bring understanding, empathy, compassion – and synergy! — to serve our clients. Back in 2001, a US Navy crew and plane were detained for 11 days on mainland China. I reached out to our IPREX partner in Beijing via email. He responded in kind. We were new acquaintances suddenly put on opposite sides of a fence we thought had diminished.
That September, IPREX partners reached out via email to our Manhattan-based partner to offer support, housing, blood, whatever we could provide to alleviate the pain of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Fast forward to 2013, when government officials in Syria shut down social media during their recent crisis – virtually controlling external communications.
In 2014, the Malaysian government used Twitter to notify families of the missing passengers. That struck me as callous and distant.
A few months later, a Ukrainian official used a Facebook post to communicate about the shot-down aircraft.
Today, the scared little girl who obediently knelt and covered her head in the school hallway during the Cold War bombing drills, wonders why social media has not brought the peace and understanding we thought for sure it would. The grownup in me still believes in that important one word: “…yet.”
Lori C. Booker, APR, is founder and CEO of CBR Strategic Communications and is a respected news media commentator.