Editor’s note: The SMILE (Social Media, the Internet and Law Enforcement) Conference provides officers with all the technical hands-on skills and the practical knowledge to utlitze social media platforms for public outreach, crime prevention and forensics. The conference is a great opportunity for those involved in social media efforts to share suggestions and stories on this ever-changing topic. Below you will find social media tips from one of the speakers at the conference.

Consider creating a news blog for your organization. We use Tumblr to create a blog for larger disasters that happen in Virginia. We simply link to the blog from our agency’s website and promote it using social media. It has cut down the number of news releases that we distribute and gives the media easy access to updated information. The blog format gives us flexibility to post short or long pieces of information, photos, video, audio and maps. Information can even be posted using mobile devices. Most blog platforms can be set up to feed information to Twitter and Facebook.

Bob Spieldenner manages the agency’s media relations, disaster communications and public education efforts. Bob has worked in ten federally declared disasters and numerous emergencies. He helped establish and lead a joint information center at Virginia Tech after the April 2007 shooting. In addition, Bob managed Virginia’s joint information centers for Hurricane Isabel in 2003, Election Day 2008 and the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. Prior to joining VDEM, Bob managed national public education campaigns and served as primary spokesperson for the United Network for Organ Sharing, which coordinates the national organ transplant system. He began his public relations career at the Virginia Dept of Transportation.