Pinterest is Useful For Crisis Communicators

If you follow the tech blogging community at all, you’ll
have heard of Pinterest. If you don’t
follow that community, and you haven’t heard of it already from a
friend, family member or co-worker, you will soon enough. It is
officially the hot new thing.

Intended to simulate the look and feel of a corkboard (the site calls
it a pinboard), Pinterest is a digital place to save and display
images meaningful to you, with a link back to the source. Pictures of
cute puppy dogs to make you smile, skinny people to remind you to put
down the (second) cupcake, inspirational quotes, etc. The social media
part of this is that you can see everyone else’s board, and can pin
stuff from their boards to your own board. What an amazing way to
learn more about someone; you can see everything that they find

And Pinterest is making headlines. Even as an invite-only website
(which is a hugely clever way to ensure that people joining the site
have ready-made friends on there, so there’s never that element of,
“so now what do I do,” that bedevils sites like Twitter), Pinterest
is driving more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube and
COMBINED. That alone would get headlines, but there’s one more
interesting part to this equation. By far, the majority of Pinterest
users are women. In the U.S., some statistics have the figure at 87%
of active users

So, naturally, I wanted to know more, both for personal and
professional reasons. (So I asked my wife for an invite.) What I found
was that there’s really nothing girly about the site. It functions
just like my magnetic whiteboard at work, with all kinds of important
or interesting pictures hanging from it. Then after pinning a bunch
of tattoo pictures and Star Wars
(or you could do like Chief
and post lots of
motorcycle pics and man caves and prove that you’ve got way more guy
cred than I have), I started thinking about work and how we, as
communicators, could use this new medium in an emergency.

And I failed.

Really smart folks like Patrice
and Karen
and Gerald

are convinced that Pinterest can be a useful way to communicate in an
emergency, but I just don’t see it yet. I think that ultimately
they’ll be proven right, but that doesn’t mean that Pinterest can’t be
useful for those in our field right now. But instead of after or
during, before.

Take, for example, this great pinboard
by the wonderful folks at APHL (the Association of Public Health
Labs). They’re using it essentially as a self-directed teaching site.
For those of us in specialized fields that aren’t really well
understood, like public health labs, like public health, like
emergency management, like fire fighting, like policing, like the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. What an
amazing way to demonstrate, in those thousand-word-pictures, what
we’re all about. In these times of austerity, what a better way to
demonstrate why the work you do is important.

And one final note for my public health readers. It’s known that women
(specifically mothers) are the chief medical decision-makers for
families in the U.S. And that the percent of medical decision-makers
searching online for health information continues to rise. And now
you know that the largest reported age group in the U.S. on Pinterest
are women aged 35 to
So if you wanted to influence medical decision-makers about things
like, say, vaccines, where do you think might be a good place to do


5 thoughts on “Pinterest is Useful For Crisis Communicators

  1. Great post and worth considering interest for public health and disaster response. As for influence medical decision-makers, especially for children, I think PH social media influencers should partner with some of the bigger name mommie bloggers. As long as they weren’t anti-vaccine. #thedisasterist

  2. Thanks for starting this discussion. I have been thinking about how EMS agencies and educators can use Pinterest. I think it has potential as part of a social media marketing strategy.

  3. Hi Jim, after speaking to @mm4marketing yesterday we decided to set up Pinterest boards for Disaster Apps. This will be a great chance to learn our way around Pinterest while sharing info on all of our favorite disaster apps and app we use for disasters. DM me if you want to collaborate on those boards and I’ll add you.

  4. @Dr. Uranek, I couldn’t agree more about the mommy bloggers. We did something similar at work during H1N1 to local bloggers. I would totally do it again.

  5. @Greg:Thanks so much for stopping by! It’s an interesting space and I can’t wait to see how some of the more creative folks in our fields take advantage!

Comments are closed.