This morning at 8:44am, they tweeted this.
We expect to have estimated restoration times later today. You will be able to view them on our outage map and mobile app.
— Pepco (@PepcoConnect) July 1, 2012
Pepco even started a Facebook photo album of not just damage from this past Friday's storm, but also crews working to repair that damage.
But with great social media comes great transparency and these tools are just other platforms for them to receive comments, criticism, and complaints.
A couple of hours ago, Christine Byrams left this comment on Facebook, "Power in Cheltenham and parts of Upper Marlboro are still OUT!!" from her mobile device.
Not missing a beat, PepcoConnect replied, "Christine, we will work around the clock until restoration is completed."
This is a great example of how important it is to listen with Social Media. Eric Harr made a great point in a blog, aptly titled, Myth: To Be Heard, Talk. Truth: To Be Heard, Listen:
"Social media was created as a refuge from that very method of “interruption marketing.” People seek honest dialogue and authentic discourse. They want to be heard."
And natural disasters are definitely a situation where people want to be heard. If there's any question as to why Social Media is worth it for an organization you are with, this is one.
Obviously, crisis is relative and not every company or organization deals with the same product or responsibilities that affect peoples lives to this degree. But that's no reason to ignore it.
Kivi Miller, of NonProfitMarketingGuide.com, has a great post from this past February titled Nonprofit Crisis Communications 101: Shorten the News Cycle. And while her site is geared towards the Nonprofit community, best practices are best practices. Here's one of her points on why an org needs a crisis communication plan:
"Whether you can predict it or not, whether you think you are controversial or not, whether you are careful and prepared or not, every nonprofit is vulnerable to some sort of crisis. In some ways, the actual substance of the crisis is less important than whether you are ready to respond quickly and competently to it."
People will probably still be angry and frustrated until their power is restored, but they have more than a website and an 877 number, and social media done right ensures that they'll receive a response sooner than later.
Every customer might not be happy, but every customer with such access will be heard. Yes, accessibility's a whole other can of worms which I'm sure I'll blog about later.
In the meantime, are you someone who's Tweeted at Pepco or left a comment on their Facebook page? What did you say? How did Pepco respond? And most importantly, are you satisfied with their response?
And if you have any comments or insights you'd like to share, please leave a comment.
P.S. if you care to follow and/or like either of the two people I mentioned: