Red Cross Essay Example
Red Cross is a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education almost all over the world and Australian Red Cross is one of the many international Red Cross Societies. The organization offers services in five other areas namely; communication services and comfort for military members and their families members, collection ,processing and distribution of blood and blood products ,education programs on preparedness ,health, and safety and international relief and development programs. Red Cross exists as an independent entity organized as a non profit, tax exempt, charitable institution. The organization functions to strengthen national emergency preparedness, response and recovery .Secondly the organization serve to increase international aid and development. Other services include championing international humanitarian law and helping overcoming social exclusion by providing bridges back to the community of people affected by disaster among other priorities.
The organization comprise of over 97 million volunteers worldwide who mainly gives and subscribes to the organization through social media like Facebook,twitter,internet and also get information through broadcast on radios especially during and or after an emergency or a disaster has hit a place. The passion and commitment of volunteers is highly acknowledged and their rise to natural disaster and personal crises from floods, fire and droughts cannot be under estimated since it’s their donation that funds the better part of the organization. Based on the above fact there is a need for the organization to engage the entire public for their donation and corporation in responding to a particular disaster or emergency and this is mainly achieved through proper advertisement on digital media like TVs, radios to have their stories advertised, reaching public through social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn which have been used in most cases by the organization to reach donor volunteers from almost every part of the world. This calls for proper managing of the media both social and political media while understanding its importance in line with the priorities of the organization. This report explores the mentioned key areas i.e. importance of social media and its management by use of examples on how digital and social media have been used for the success of this organization.
Digital media are encoded media in machine in readable they can be created, viewed, distributed, modified and preserved on computers format. Their rapid popularity is due to internet and personal computing. Social media on the other hand can be defined as interaction among people or groups of people in which they create, share, and or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Also to a group of internet based applications that build on ideological and technological foundations of web and has capability of allowing creation and exchange of user generated content.
Social media differs from traditional media in terms of its quality, frequency, usability, immediacy and permanency. Social media take different forms ranging from magazines, internet forums, web blogs, social blogs, wikis, social networks and this takes on different technologies like blogging, picture sharing among others. It’s due to their social presence, media richness and social processes that social media have become an important part of engaging and managing partners, stakeholders and volunteers to participate actively in the activities of the Red Cross society among many other humanitarian movements.
Journalist and humanitarian organization has a complementary role during cases of emergencies which are the major priority of Red Cross. There is a need for journalist to keep updating the public on the adverse effects of the disaster, the probably estimate number of those affected. Journalists have a role to assist humanitarian organization to obtain the much needed assistance for the affected population. The media should raise awareness of the plight of the people affected and how the general public can assist through donations. Role of media in humanitarian reporting and beneficiary communications during conflict, violence and disaster should be for the good of the affected people.
Both social and digital media have critical role in facilitating social collaboration and disseminating information to ensure success of Red Cross. This vital role of the digital media was seen when reporters provided live and useful updates when Hurricane Sandy wrought devastation across United States Eastern seaboard. People in affected areas used Facebook, Google, twitter and integral to find information and also update their families and friends that they were safe. They posted pictures of the extent of destruction in the wake of the emergency and this information helped the humanitarian movements like Red Cross in managing for what to provide to the affected population like shelter and other building materials. At this instance the role of the digital media channels in been part of emergency response process was evidence. Importance of digital media in this particular crisis cannot be undermined as it was fast, operated on demand and in real time.
The media quickly conveyed important complex information that enabled and facilitated preparation process of Red Cross in responding to help the victims. Additionally digital media enabled a multi –way conversations that drove action and reaction fast between the affected and the humanitarian organization that responded for aid. Digital media fosters immediacy, innovation and interaction by engaging the humanitarian organization and the public through updates on how red cross is responding to an emergency. Its strength and its limitation and the media calls for public donation in form of finance, foodstuff, blood donation and other materials. In case of Sandy Hurricane people posted on Facebook a social media warning to bar people to avoid travelling to affected areas.Mainly Red Cross society used YouTube and flashlight and also hooked up with the weather channel to stream live coverage of the storm from time to time. Social media becomes more useful by humanitarian organization especially in areas where disaster has compromised other means of communication. Social mediaisused to call for public participation and volunteers .All this the digital and social media does for the good of all those affected by the disaster.
Google an internet search engine was used by humanitarian organization that participated in responding to the disastrous earthquake that hit Haiti. Google map was used to create a crisis map site. It provided a separate layer for the most important information ranging from storm’s current position and also a three day forecast to a river flood outlook, storm surge probabilities and location of safe evacuation routes and emergency shelters. Google search provided algorithms and also enabled processing and filtering of large amounts of community generated data which provided users mainly from organization like Red Cross and United Nation with accurate and relevant information in real time and this accelerated evacuation procedures and response.
During period of disaster charities like Red Cross and Salvation Army rely on twitter and their websites to deliver information on location of their help centers.Incase of the Sandy Hurricane they used twitter to direct affected population to their storm shelters. During this emergency public followed the effects of the hurricane via social media, and simultaneously took advantage of it to promote blood drives and donations in Facebook and Twitter. Residents of Long beach, New york relied on twitter feeds from FEMA. Red Cross accessed support groups on Facebook. After the storm the Red Cross and FEMA charities were able to raise $ 100,000 through online crowd sourcing site from the city. Also in Indiegogo various charity organizations have credited their success in donation drives and air distribution to social media.
The Hurricane Sandy experience showed conclusively the importance of social media as a first point of call during emergency .This is due to the diversity of applications it provides which meet the urgent needs of people in crisis and its speed of communication. In order to engage and manage online communities the Red Cross uses social media like Facebook, You tube, Twitter among others to meet, serve and steward communities. It’s in social media where they spend time, build an everyday relationship with local stakeholders with an aim of increasing relevance in the community and increase value to local stakeholders. Through this the organization is able to build a fabric support of a community by gathering comment, participants and volunteers views and ideas which they consolidate to come up with a common objective more so in time of crisis. Social media has led to an increase in the revenue, course takers and community participation while still keeping the human in humanitarian act of the organization.
Mostly the aim of engaging online communities in the charitable work of the Red Cross is to build capacity by adopting a culture of listening. It’s by doing this that the organization inspires participants and volunteers by making sure that there is a person in charge of the social engagement. At least one in a day and spend time on the Twitter, Facebook and other social media to appreciate and respondent to participants and volunteers concerns and questions. This is with aim of making them feel valued and appreciated as stakeholders in the movement. As part of engaging communities and stakeholders the organization use social communities whereby they foster communities in their social platform, invite and welcome new people to join the community and create original content for the organization social platform.
The humanitarian movement is prepared to continue operations during major crises by having strategies like offering communitytools to raise funds on their behave. Their use online donation or partnership with other organizations and governments. Inspiring donation through social engagements and share community input with operational decision makers. It’s the role of such organization to inspire offline action like donations and preparedness with the sole aim of managing and engaging online community participation. For a successful social engagement program red cross use a listening strategy since this calls for participating in conversations that happens on social media such as face book or Twitter. The objective here is to get people who have interest in the mission of the organization.
The strategy in place for Red Cross to ensure a culture of listening for effective online community participation is that all staffs are encouraged to listen and engage on the social web. Staffs and volunteers of the organization are encouraged to comment, share and post any official content posted by engagement specialist, they are also encouraged to engage with others who comment. This staff and volunteer participation provide insights and alerts on any misinformation or misconduct while at long term encouraging online participation.
Various listening tools used by this organization are Twitter including Twitter Deck for desktop software, Twitter.com, Hoot suite, Cotweet for web based and Twitter. Facebook official app, Hoot suite for mobile apps and facebook.com for web based. These tools are helpful since they assist the Red Cross engagement specialist on what to listen and how. This help them to follow specific topics or trends or emergences since these tools have guidelines with elaborate procedures which guide a public in posting and alerting on any emergency from their area. The social engagement team in the communications departments responds to all daily social mentions of the Red Cross.
The main aim of using social media by the Red Cross is so as to build relations with volunteers, community and media. This is because media has ability to create faster service, media coverage and feed back and the fact that Red Cross social media has ability to create and exhibit dialogue principles, communality and mutuality control. Barriers to use of social media are staffs, time, and managing content and public abilities in term of level of knowledge on technology use and skills in use of computer software. The mentioned challenges can be eliminated through training. An addition challenge in use of Facebook and Twitter is lack of opportunities to improve headquarters and local area relations. Red Cross uses various methods to manage these challenges by monitoring their online conversation and providing accurate and genuine information to stakeholders. Based on an interview on forty individuals from the American Red Cross asked to explore the use of social media in communicating to public and stakeholders; results revealed that involving and engaging public through social media is effective and necessary more so with emerging digital age.
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