Some readers may remember "Password," a classic American TV game show that featured celebrities helping contestants win big money by guessing "passwords" with single-word clues. (Cue the likes of Regis Philbin and Jamie Farr.)
It's too bad Regis -- or someone on staff-- wasn't on hand to help the governor of Hawaii on Jan. 13. Turns out the state's top elected was unable to debunk an erroneous missile alert earlier this month because, well, he forgot his password.
To his Twitter account.
This is is a crisis communications lesson served up on a pu pu platter.
The Hawaii Emergency Management System issued a mistaken missile alert at 8:07 a.m. on Jan. 13, sending residents and others to Twitter to seek clarification -- or at least more information.
None came, until about 17 minutes later, when the governor finally issued five critical words: There is NO missile threat. (That's 26 characters, with spaces.)
In remarks to reporters on Jan. 23, Gov. David Ige admitted the reason for the long delay.
‘‘I have to confess that I don’t know my Twitter account log-ons and the passwords, so certainly that’s one of the changes that I’ve made," Ige told the Washington Post
What's more, the governor's Facebook account was not updated during the crisis until 23 minutes after the false alert. According to the Post story, the state itself did not issue an official correction until 38 minutes after the mistaken alert was issued.
Not surprisingly, social media -- Twitter, in particular -- is the first place people turn to in the event of an emergency. So it is imperative that in crisis communications planning, it's essential to have this kind of information stored, securely, of course, and shared with key staff so that when a crisis does occur (even an erroneous one), those accounts can be updated immediately.
Adding a page with the organization's key social media accounts and passwords to the crisis communications plan can help alleviate that stress. And when time is of the essence, having that information readily handy is vital.
The password is: anticipate.