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BU Utilizes Twitter: Blizzard Crisis

Weather warnings of an approaching Boston snowstorm prompted Boston University’s Human Resources to send this mass cryptic email to the university:

“Sent 11:42 pm on Thursday, 20 January, 2011
Boston University’s Charles River Campus will have a two (2) hour delayed opening on Friday, January 21, 2011.”

Staring at my iPhone email moments before drifting to sleep, I was extremely puzzled. What does that badly-worded sentence mean? When should I set my alarm? I have a 9am-12pm Public Relations Ethics class across campus…is it cancelled? Or begin at 11am? It was close to midnight-I doubt my professor would email a response?

I mass texted my friends–sadly all just as mystified as myself. I quickly scanned uninformative and confused Facebook and BU.edu for more information. No such luck. Just the same cryptic message:

Fortunately, the BU Twitter community was on their game! I was greeted with multiple student re-tweets of Boston University’s renowned Twitter enthusiast, Dean Elmore:

His carefully worded 137 characters soothed my concerns and I drifted to sleep. Awaking to a beautiful blizzard induced wintery wonderland, I received a delayed 10am yet extremely clarifying email from my professor “please don’t endanger yourself in terms of getting to the 11 a.m. delayed class session. I will write everyone during the weekend and provide details about how we will catch up in the future on class time we missed due to the snow today.”

Even COM Student Services looked to twitter for an explanation. At 9:45am they emailed: “ALL Classes prior to 11 am today are cancelled. Dean Elmore has confirmed this via Twitter.”

Props to Dean Elmore for utilizing social media to inform students! I enjoy watching how brands, companies and even universities interact with the communities they are trying to reach. Obviously BU’s Human Resources department failed and Twitter’s real-time feed from the Dean of BU succeeded. I can’t wait to continue to study BU’s interactions towards its students.


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