Social media has radically transformed how risk, high-concern, and crisis information is distributed, viewed, shared, and collected. Below we have listed the benefits of social media in this realm.


Over the past decade, leaders, managers, and communicators have had to rapidly adjust to the reality that social media is now the dominant player in the world of risk, high-concern, and crisis communication.

Social media has become a primary source of information for large segments of the public on virtually any high-concern issue or topic.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans use social media to connect with one another, engage with news content, share information, and entertain themselves. Because of social media and mobile devices, young and older people alike are increasingly able to share information anytime, anyplace.

Social media use often surges during crises. Within minutes of an event, people seek out answers to questions about who, what, where, when, why, and how.

This democratization of information sharing has important consequences for risk, high-concern, and crisis communicators. For example, the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death was shared on Twitter long before President Obama made the official announcement.

Benefits of Social Media for Risk, High-Concern, and Crisis Communication

Several specific benefits flow from the use of social media for risk, high-concern, and crisis communication:

(1) Social media increases the speed at which information is distributed.

(2) Social media expands stakeholder access to information.

(3) Social media can be used to engage people in the decision-making process.

(4) Social media allows people to easily and quickly create and redistribute information through their own social networks.

(5) Social media can be used to enhance transparency, collaboration, and participation in management and communication processes.

(6) Social media research can reveal patterns and deepen understanding of how communication networks influence perceptions, judgments, and decisions about high-concern issues. This is critical to producing better communications in noisy environments.

(7) Organizations can use social media platforms to place focused “paid ads” or “boots.” Many social media platforms allow organizations and users to target a particular geographic area or community.

(8) If mainstream broadcast and print media organizations are not able to function (for example, in cases of natural disaster or terrorism), social media may be the only source for information available to leaders, crisis managers, first responders, and citizens.

Communicating Effectively When Feelings, Fears, and Facts Collide

Pathway to Risk, High-Concern, and Crisis Communication introduces communicators to the tools and techniques for communicating effectively—while providing greater insight into why audiences react the way they do during times of stress.

The course comprises nine video lectures and accompanying text modules, plus supplemental materials for putting valuable lessons into practice.

More information about the course, including group rates and partnering opportunities, can be found by emailing

Dr. Vincent Covello

Dr. Vincent Covello, director of the Center for Risk Communication, is one of the world’s leading experts and practitioners on risk, high-concern, and crisis communication. He is the author of more than 150 articles in scientific journals and the author/editor of more than 20 books. Dr. Covello is a consultant, writer, speaker, and teacher. He is a frequent keynote speaker and has conducted communication skills training for thousands.