Why Instagram is a great crisis tool

What’s the latest and greatest tool for crisis communications?

If you ask Maureen O’Connor of NYMag.com, it’s Instagram. Her article, “How Instagram Became the Best Crisis PR” details how public figures are tapping the photo sharing app to clean up after their messes.

First, there’s Beyonce. You may recall that recent dustup between her sister, Solange Knowles, and her husband, Jay-Z, in an elevator. The cure for that PR crisis? A weird back-and-forth deletion/addition game of photos purged and added of the two sisters in happier, less PR-nightmarish times.

Next, she points to the story of Jill Abramson, who was removed as The New York Times’ executive editor. In the wake of said removal and in response to criticism that had been laid out against her, Abramson’s daughter posted the following Instagram photo:

Intended or not, moves like these are creating their own narrative. They follow the now famous Don Draper/Mad Men quote, “If you don’t like what’s being said, then change the conversation”.

Instead of headlines about an ugly physical assault in an elevator, the conversation changed to Beyonce and her sister’s Instagram machinations.

I see three reasons why Instagram has become such a powerful PR tool:

1. It’s immediate. There’s no waiting for a reporter to tell your story for you with Instagram. You’re telling it yourself in the time it takes to push go.

2. It’s direct. With Instagram, you’re connecting directly to the people who want to hear your message, and they’ll amplify it for you (that is, if it’s worth sharing).

3. Images can tell a story that words can’t. The image of Jill Abramson wearing boxing is arguably far more profound than any well-crafted, saccharine statement could ever hope to be. Images have lasting power.

As with any tool, it should be one of many in your arsenal. Fitting the message to the medium has become more of a needed skill than ever before.

How have you seen Instagram used as a powerful PR tool?