Global PR firm Weber Shandwick has launched a social media crisis simulator, FireBell, which offers those clients who dare 'an authentic, real-time experience of being under attack on social media channels'.
The firm says the proprietary application 'simulates crisis situations on multiple social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Digg, LinkedIn and blogs', and allows clients to participate in 'a real-time dialogue in a secure, off-the-Internet environment'.
The simulation involves construction of 'a plausible crisis scenario', in secret by the agency, which builds 'functioning and fictional offline versions of the client's social media properties including Twitter and Facebook', plus other social properties such as anti-fan Facebook pages and blogs. FireBell then projects images that look like the organization's social media profiles, allowing clients to develop their response skills.
'It's critical that clients understand how issues spread and how to react in as close to real time as possible', comments Chris Perry, President of Digital Communications. 'Communications leaders need to understand that it's not a matter of if an online crisis is going to happen, but when - and be prepared.'
According to David Krejci, the group's SVP Digital Communications, 'This stress-inducing exercise prepares clients for exactly how and when to engage with audiences via social media - and does so in a secure and offline environment.'
Weber Shandwick has offices in 74 countries around the world, is part of the Interpublic Group and is online at www.webershandwick.com .