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Tackling Crises One Tweet at a Time

Changemaker Kelsey Dixon is leading the charge to educate the meetings industry about social media’s role in risk management.

MeetingsNet’s annual Changemaker list recognizes 20 outstanding meetings professionals for their efforts to move their organizations and the industry forward in unique and positive ways. Find all the profiles here.

Kelsey Dixon

Co-Founder & President, 
davies + dixon

For leading the charge in educating the industry about social media’s role in crisis communications

Making Change
People in our industry sometimes joke that “we’re not saving lives” in our roles as meeting or event professionals, but perhaps we should be focusing more on that. I’m always astounded by the number of groups that don’t have crisis communications plans in place for events. And event organizers often don’t realize how social media could be a life-saving tool in many situations. However, my firm is working to help people understand this. 

One of our plans was recently tested when we were running a conference for 24,000 people in Denver and got reports that there was an active shooter just 10 blocks away. Since we’d already determined that the conference’s attendees were avid Twitter users who would tweet using the event’s hashtag, we knew that’s where they’d go to find and report news about the shooting. We retweeted information directly from the local police as quickly as possible and tweeted out directions on what to do next. Luckily, it turned out our attendees weren’t in danger, as the shooting was an isolated incident. But to me, it underscored the importance of creating a crisis plan in advance. If we hadn’t, things might have gotten out of control very quickly.

What’s Next?
As event organizers get on board with creating crisis communications guidelines, I’d like to see them nurture their social media audiences all year round. If attendees get used to communicating with you in a certain way, you’ll know how to connect with one another when something unexpected happens.

Managing Change
I could not do what I’m doing without an amazing support system. My co-founder Makenzie Davies and I support each other 24/7. And the fact that I’m able to text or call (sometimes frantically!) my mentors at any time of the day is huge. I am very lucky that one of my mentors is my dad. He is CEO of the same company where he started out in the stockroom at age 18. He’s shown me how much grit is required to adapt to new situations.

Best Business Advice
When we were launching our business, many people tried to talk me out of it, saying that I was just too young. (I was 24.) But one person, a former colleague who I trusted very much, said that I could combat that by working hard to build my network. “You just don’t have your people yet,” he told me. So, I set out to get “my people”—those who would support me and become my clients. Some of those things have taken me out of my comfort zone. For instance, I’ve been working hard to get up on stage at a variety of key events to talk about the crisis communications guidelines we’ve created for people. It’s scary, but I keep plugging away at it. It’s opened a lot of doors for us. 

Hour to Spare?
I love being outside. I moved from the East Coast to the Pacific Northwest to have access to the outdoors. If I have an hour of spare time, you’ll find me walking near the beach. If I have a weekend to spare, you’ll probably find me off the grid, hiking or camping in the mountains.


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