The Tricks & Treats of Facebook in a Crisis

By Gerard Braud

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Is Facebook your friend or foe in a crisis? The frightening truth is it really depends on a lot of factors.

(Don’t be afraid to look at Facebook in an all new light when you join us for this special Halloween webinar.)

Let us start with a discussion about your brand page. Do you have one? There are three schools of thought when it comes organizational brand pages.

First, many organizations don’t have one because the leaders within the organization are afraid too many people will say nasty things on the page. Secondly, some organizations have brand pages set up by excitable communicators or marketers who think Facebook is the best invention since sliced bread (or pumpkin pie).  The reality is your organization may not be the kind of place the average person wants to “Like” and read about in their Facebook newsfeed. I personally have no desire to follow my bank, hospital or electric company. Thirdly, there are organizations — especially in the realm of fun consumer brands — that people “Like” to have in their newsfeed and love to engage with.

Regardless of which of the three categories applies to you, when a crisis happens, Facebook sometimes becomes one of your best communications outlet for getting actionable information to key audiences. But here is the scary part — It can also be a place where the world gangs up on you because of how you are communicating during the crisis.

Let us look at three types of crises and how they played out on Facebook, and what you should do to be prepared in a similar situation.

The most frightening thing I’ve observed this year was the use of Facebook by individuals who quickly set up a Facebook page and publish more information about your crisis than your organization is publishing on all of your communications channels.

WilliamsOlefinsOn the morning of June 13, 2013 there was a tragic explosion and fire at the Williams Olefins Chemical plant in Geismar, LA, about 50 miles from my home, which killed 2 workers and injured 114 more. Before the company had a single news release issued, or before they provided any images or videos posted to the web, either community members or employees published a Facebook page with more details than the company ever gave.

GeismarThe owner of this “Fan” page has not responded to my requests for an interview. A friend who works for Williams had told me long ago that the company does not allow the communications department to use any of the advanced crisis communications procedures that I recommend. Instead, their corporate bosses subscribe to FEMA’s National Incident Management System (NIMS) which relegates the task of communicating details about the crisis to the Louisiana State Police.

I personally hate NIMS. A state trooper can only communicate response details. The trooper isn’t able to communicate empathy to the community, nor is there anything about NIMS that meets the needs of employees who know people who have been personally affected. Furthermore, NIMS provides no social media presence.

For the record, my crisis communications plans dictate that the company in crisis must communicate with the outside world within one hour or less of the onset of the crisis. My priorities in such an event would be as follows:

1) Use a modified, pre-written news release template from my crisis communications plan, as my script for a live news conference with all media who have gathered at the scene of the explosion.

2) Post the identical pre-written news release to the corporate website.

3) Send an e-mail to all employees, media and stakeholders, with the identical information in text and with a link to the company website.

4) Create a short YouTube video with the identical information.

5) Post a link on Facebook with a link to the website and the video.

6) Post a link to Twitter with a link to the website and the video.

7) Add photos and videos to the corporate website and to Facebook as the event continues to unfold.

Throughout your crisis, your official website is the most secure location for official information. Social media can be used, but must be monitored and facilitated to handle comments. Using social media requires you to have ample staff.

In this case study of the Williams Company, eye witnesses did a better job of providing information than the company and the state police.

Don’t let a similar situation be your demise.

Next, consider scary weather and Facebook. In many weather events, the electricity goes out and people are displaced from their homes. When the lights are on and people are at home, they tend to migrate to Google on their computer for information about a crisis. But when the lights are out and people may not be home, they generally turn to their mobile phone and Facebook becomes a big player.

Likewise, if you are trying to function in an official capacity without electricity and you have difficulty accessing your corporate website, Facebook becomes a great communications option for you, because you can access and update it via your smart phone.

Weather events also become a time when a brand page is really needed and all the more reason to set one up on a clear sunny day, even though you might not usually attract many “Likes” during normal times. Trust me, your “Likes” will go up exponentially during the crisis.

This year we’ve had serious forest fires, floods, deadly tornadoes and pre-season snow storms. In every case, organizations have seen their Facebook followers spike. A quick way to see proof is to visit a Facebook page of an electric company in a region affected by a natural disaster. On the “about” link you can access the analytics that allow you to view the spike in “Likes” during the crisis.

Furthermore, in a weather event, your organization may be a small part of a big story, fighting with bigger players for media attention. Facebook circumvents the media and allows you to take details straight to your primary audience.

Finally, consider that some scary events can quickly turn your Facebook page into a bitching page, especially if the synical audience on social media thinks some aspect of your crisis has been handled poorly.  A good example is a shooting at Middle Tennessee State University on February 14, 2011.

MTSUshootingWhen a gunman was reported, the University used their text message system to alert students of the potential danger. But prior to the crisis, the University apparently did not do a good enough job of managing the expectations of the student body to make them aware that mass texting systems often take 20 – 30 minutes before everyone gets their alert message. This is the kind of thing that must be managed on a clear sunny day with proper information and a test text, rather than creating a crisis within a crisis on the day of your crisis.

During the Middle Tennessee crisis, the University’s Facebook page lit up, with more comments about slow text alerts than there were comments about the event.

So upon further consideration, is Facebook your friend or foe in a crisis?

There are some scary things happening on Facebook during crises and you can’t afford to get tricked by them. Take steps today to be prepared.

Learn more by signing up today for this special Halloween Webinar.

 

PRSA Workshop Resources

As a PRSA member, here are some additional resources and links to supplement our program on social media, crisis communications, and secrets to effective communications when “it” hits the fan.

DSC_00761) A copy of my First Critical Statement can be downloaded with this link.

To download it for free, enter the coupon code CRISISCOMPLAN

An e-mail will be sent instantly. Make sure it doesn’t go to your spam filter by authorizing my e-mail address gerard@braudcommunications.com

2) I think video is an amazing way to achieve effective communications during a crisis. It should be a vital part of your social media strategy and it can be an amazing way to get your message directly to the media. Training is critical to getting it right. This link takes you to a tutorial that teaches you everything I do when I’m creating iReports for CNN. The same strategy works on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

3) A crisis communications drill is vital to good performance during your crisis. This article outlines the elements of a good drill.

4) Speed is critical in a crisis. This article outlines missed opportunities to communicate quickly during a shooting.

5) Sometimes a crisis is the result of problems on social media. This article outlines how

Burger King failed to practice good crisis communications when their Facebook page was hacked.

 

 

 

Social Media When “It” Hits the Fan

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

Twitter over capacityThere is so much to hate about social media. Yet there are so many new avenues of communications available to you during a crisis, that it becomes hard to hate social media. On the other hand, during a crisis social media can blow up with excessive criticism and hate. Add to that, the fact that your older executives may freak out when they read all of the negative hate speech, and then you have a real problem on your PR hands. However, it is impossible to overlook the power of circumventing the media in certain crises when you can’t get news coverage, by taking your message straight to your audience on social media. Also, it is gratifying to get positive feedback from people who were hungry for information and found solace knowing you provided them vital information right there on social media.

…whew!!

Are you as tired of this merry-go round as I am? Sorting it all out is nothing short of exhausting.

So what do you think? Does shiny and new beat tried and true? In other words, does shiny new social media serve you better than the traditional approach to crisis communications? The traditional approach I’m talking about mixes good media relations, with good employee relations and a perfect crisis communications plan.

What happens if you combine all of the new social media, the latest technology, great media relations and great crisis communications all at the same time? I have done it while in seven feet of floodwaters with no electricity for five days. I ended up on live television with CNN and the Weather Channel, broadcasting my story from the heart of a hurricane where even their own news crews couldn’t go. Would you like to learn the secrets of doing that?

InstagramSome of those secrets are in this article in Tactics

To help you sort it all out, you are invited to join me in Washington, D.C. on September 24th where we will explore the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to social media for crisis communications. Here is how to register with PRSA.

Do not come if you are expecting suggestions for one magic solution that works for every organization. There is no such thing.

Here is a sample of what you will hear.

Come prepared for a tailored solution. Come prepared to discover the right fit for your organization and not the force fit that legions of social media consultants have tried to cram down your throat.

You will explore not only the good and bad side of social media, but you will also discern which elements of a good crisis communications plan, good media relations, and good employee communications are vital.

You will see case studies of companies that have used social media brilliantly in a crisis as well as companies that have spent millions on social media only to find that no one really wanted to participate in their social media conversation.

Also on our agenda is a healthy list of actions you should take on a clear sunny day, in order to be prepared for your darkest day. You will discover that the core elements of a strong crisis communications plan can lay the foundation for every action you take during a crisis. You will be relieved to learn that most of the decisions you will make during your crisis and most of the statements you need to write and issue during a crisis can all be prepared months and years in advance.

Don’t forget speed. Fast communications is the secret spice of all effective crisis communications.facebook-like-button

One final thought if you sign up to join us: Clear your calendar for when you get back to the office because you will leave with a significant list of action items that you will want to work on as soon as you get home.

23 Tutorials on How to Effectively Use Social Media When the Next Katrina Hits

Today marks two years since Hurricane Isaac and ten years since Hurricane Katrina.

Isaac Flooding Gerard BraudIn that short time between these two hurricanes, media relations and crisis communications has been affected by social media and technology.

Are you ready to effectively communicate in your next big natural disaster, be it a tornado, snow storm, forest fire or hurricane?

Today we share tips on how to weather your storm with effective crisis communications, based on my coverage of Hurricane Isaac last year.

With seven feet of water in my yard, white caps rolling down my driveway, thousands of snakes, four 10-foot alligators and no electricity, I was able to broadcast live to CNN and The Weather Channel.

This series of 23 tutorials tells you how I did it and how you can do it too. Enjoy!

To view more videos on my hurricane coverage click here.

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Click here to read Lesson #1 Why Be An iReporter 

 

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Click here to read Lesson #2 Game Changers in Crisis Communication and iReporting

Tutorial #3 Still Gerard Braud

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Click here to read Lesson #3 Set Up Your IReporter Account 

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Click here to read Lesson #4 What is News?

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Click here to watch Lesson #5 Hurricane Isaac: iReports Before, During and After. Is This Guy Crazy?

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Click here to read Lesson #6 Get the Right Tools to be a CNN iReporter

 

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Click here to read Lesson #7 How a Guy in Mandeville, Louisiana Became a Source of Breaking News 

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Click here to read Lesson #8 How and Why to tell a Compare and Contrast Story 

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Click Here to Read Lesson #9 What to Say in Your iReport

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Click here to read Lesson #10 Manage the Expectations of Your Audience

Tutorial 11 Still Gerard Braud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to read Lesson #11 Where You Should Look When Using an iPad or Iphone for an iReport

Tutorial 12 Still Gerard Braud

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Click here to read Lesson #12 Good Lighting for Your iReport

Tutorial 13 Still Gerard Braud

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Click here to read Lesson #13 How to Manage Your Audio

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Click here to read Lesson #14 How to Properly Frame Your Video 

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Click here to read Lesson #15 When to use earbuds and headsets

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Click here to read Lesson #16 How and Why to Plan Movement in Your iReport

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Click here to read Lesson #17 The Secrets to Using Skype for a Live CNN Interview 

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Click here to read Lesson #18 Secrets to a Professional Reporter Style “Standup” While Holding Your IPhone at Arm’s Length 

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Click here to read Lesson #19 How to Shoot Great B-Roll  

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Click here to read Lesson #20 Learn Why Crap is King When it Comes to TV 

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Click here to read Lesson #21 Get Great New iReporter Gadgets 

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Click here to read Lesson #22 Keep it Short

 

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Click here to read Lesson #23 Final Thoughts on How You Can be an Award Winning iReporter

Breaking News: McNair Elementary School Shooting in DeKalb County, Georgia: Lessons in Crisis Communication

We interrupt this blog with Breaking News. A school shooting at McNair Elementary School in DeKalb County, Georgia is sadly duplicating the same crisis communication failures that we began to outline in this morning’s article and the serious written and awaiting posts in the coming days.

Our goal is not to belittle this school or the DeKalb County schools. Our goal is to have all schools and school districts wake up and adopt crisis communications plans and modern communications techniques. News about a school shooting must come from the school with great effort. Schools must not relegate information to the media, who will speculate about what they don’t know. Schools must not let social media go wild with panic and speculation.

Here is a breakdown of how information is and is not flowing about this shooting, just as it has in many other school shootings:

News helicopters hover with overhead images:
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The DeKalb County School website has NO information about the shooting. Within one hour or less of the onset of the crisis, the county should be posting truthful, honest information about this crisis.

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Eyewitnesses post iPhone video.

Online news organizations repost the iPhone video.

McNairCh2iPhoneVideo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter information about the school comes from observers and the media.

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There are no Twitter updates from DeKalb County Schools. In fact, DeKalb hasn’t posted to their Twitter page since July 3. Today is August 20, 2013. Ideally, they should have a short Tweet with a link back to their official website.

DeKalbTwitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The DeKalb Facebook page only gloats about happy news, ignoring this as a viable way to send timely and accurate information to the public. Ideally, they should have a short post with a link back to their official website.

DeKalbFaceBook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parents are being interviewed by the media, expressing their fears and frustrations. Police are trying to manage frustrated parents at a time when school officials should be managing this task.

Parentsw:Cops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read these Tweets to hear the frustration of parents amid the lack of official information from school officials.

TweetParent1

 

 

 

 

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So far… now in our third hour, we’ve seen no sign of a news conference from the DeKalb County School system. We do know the superintendent has spoken to parents at an area where children are being taken.

The bottom line is, it is time for educators and the education establishment to get educated about crisis communications. If you were being graded on this today, you would receive and F in communication, like so many other schools before you.

YouTube, Media Relations & Crisis Communications for Cleveland Kidnapping Victims

By Gerard Braudyoutube

YouTube is great for crisis communications. It is even more powerful when this social media tool is combined with traditional crisis communications and media relations.

Hats off to my colleague Barbara Paynter at Hennes Paynter Communications for the way her team used YouTube with regard to the three Cleveland women who underwent years as kidnapping victims. They include Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.

As a self-admitted control freak, I love that Barbara and her team used YouTube this way.

This technique gives the PR team and the spokespeople complete control over the content of what they say. This, thereby, controls what the media can use.

YouTube keeps reporters from asking uncomfortable questions of these three women, who are likely still in a fragile emotional state.

YouTube allows the women to take their message unfiltered and unedited to the world, via social media.

Given the choice, the only additional thing I may have done is to also upload this same video to CNN as an iReport.

You can read more in the USA Today report.

Good job to the people who got the domain name I wanted before I could get it: http://www.crisiscommunications.com/

I ended up with www.crisiscommunicationsplans.com which still serves my purpose.

To learn more about how to create great videos for the web, follow this link to a 23 video tutorial.

CNN iReport Tutorials Index

(Perspective: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 reporters. This is an index of a series of 23 lessons that share how to be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.)

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Click here to read Lesson #1 Why Be An iReporter 

 

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Click here to read Lesson #2 Game Changers in Crisis Communication and iReporting

Tutorial #3 Still Gerard Braud

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Click here to read Lesson #3 Set Up Your IReporter Account 

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Click here to read Lesson #4 What is News?

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Click here to watch Lesson #5 Hurricane Isaac: iReports Before, During and After. Is This Guy Crazy?

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Click here to read Lesson #6 Get the Right Tools to be a CNN iReporter

 

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Click here to read Lesson #7 How a Guy in Mandeville, Louisiana Became a Source of Breaking News 

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Click here to read Lesson #8 How and Why to tell a Compare and Contrast Story 

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Click Here to Read Lesson #9 What to Say in Your iReport

Tutorial 10 Still Gerard Braud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to read Lesson #10 Manage the Expectations of Your Audience

Tutorial 11 Still Gerard Braud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to read Lesson #11 Where You Should Look When Using an iPad or Iphone for an iReport

Tutorial 12 Still Gerard Braud

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Click here to read Lesson #12 Good Lighting for Your iReport

Tutorial 13 Still Gerard Braud

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Click here to read Lesson #13 How to Manage Your Audio

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Click here to read Lesson #14 How to Properly Frame Your Video 

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Click here to read Lesson #15 When to use earbuds and headsets

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Click here to read Lesson #16 How and Why to Plan Movement in Your iReport

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Click here to read Lesson #17 The Secrets to Using Skype for a Live CNN Interview 

Click image to watch video

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Click here to read Lesson #18 Secrets to a Professional Reporter Style “Standup” While Holding Your IPhone at Arm’s Length 

Click image to watch video

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Click here to read Lesson #19 How to Shoot Great B-Roll  

Click image to watch video

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Click here to read Lesson #20 Learn Why Crap is King When it Comes to TV 

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Click here to read Lesson #21 Get Great New iReporter Gadgets 

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Click here to read Lesson #22 Keep it Short

 

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Click here to read Lesson #23 Final Thoughts on How You Can be an Award Winning iReporter

Dark Day Crisis Planning Must Begin on a Sunny Day

By Gerard Braud

DSC_0265

Few organizations in the world face the communications challenges of America’s Rural Electric Cooperatives.

On any given day customers could be protesting over electric rates. Workers could be under attack for disconnecting service. Board members could be scrutinized for per diems, travel or expenses. Add to that the growing influence of negative social media comments and big city media covering more co-op controversies, and you have a storm brewing. That storm demands effective communications from all executives, board members, and co-op public relations teams.

Here are three steps every cooperative should take:

Step 1: Annual Media Training with Good Key Message Writing

There is no excuse, in this modern age of media, for any executive, board member or public relations person to mess up when talking to the media. But it still happens.

Many rural people tend to be friendly, honest and sometimes too chatty. Unfortunately many executives, board members and public relations people mistake the gift of gab for the ability to be an effective communicator with the media. Many board members mistakenly believe the respect they get from their status in their communities will transfer to respect from the media. That isn’t true. The fact is many of the habits you have in everyday conversation have to be avoided when talking with a reporter.

Don’t worry, there is hope. The secret is to set aside one day every year to sit down in front of a television camera with a media training coach to practice realistic interview scenarios.

Since most reporters really do not fully understand the history and inner workings of cooperatives, your media training must adopt the newest innovations in training. Never settle for training that provides only bullet points as talking points. This outdated method leads to bad ad-libs and ugly quotes.

Modern training requires a library of pre-written quotes, learned and internalized by each executive, board member and spokesperson. When written properly, internalized, and practiced, these verbatim sentences provide context, information and strong quotes.  These are all elements reporters need in their story. Also, when written in a conversational sentence structure, these sentences are easy to work into everyday conversations by leaders and employees alike.

Consider that many executives who are interviewed complain that they are taken out of context and misquoted. A well-worded, pre-planned opening sentence delivered by the spokesperson can serve as a pre-amble statement that provides context to your cooperative’s goals and purpose. This forever eliminates the issue of being taken out of context.

With annual media training you will be a good spokesperson for good news, as well as when you have to speak to the media during a crisis.

Step 2: Write a Strong Crisis Communications Plan

The worst time to deal with a crisis is during the crisis. The best time is on a clear sunny day.

  • During good times, your cooperative must conduct a vulnerability assessment to identify all potential crises.
  • You must write a crisis communications plan that chronologically tells you every step you must take to effectively communicate during the crisis.
  • You must write a preliminary fill-in-the-blank statement to use in the first hour of your crisis when facts are still being determined.
  • You must create a more detailed news release style statement for each potential crisis that you identified in your vulnerability assessment.

Katrina Media_0318If you identify 100 potential crises, then you need to write 100 potential news releases, using evergreen facts, fill in the blanks and multiple-choice options. This is best done through a facilitated writing retreat with your communications team.

A classic mistake cooperatives make is to prepare communications only for natural disasters, power outages and worker injury. A modern crisis communications plan must also cover smoldering crises such as executive misbehavior, discrimination, financial mismanagement, per diems, and even crises involving social media.

When pre-written on a clear sunny day, these documents are ready for quick release to the media, employees, customers, the Internet and other key audiences. This process is not easy and is time consuming, but it pays huge dividends during your crisis. Many organizations experience a crisis, then in the midst of it, look at a blank word document and try to spontaneously draft a statement. The statement then goes through unprecedented scrutiny and rewrites, resulting in massive delays. In the modern age of fast communications, this is lunacy. You should never put off until tomorrow what you can write today.

Writing your Crisis Communications Plan is the perfect way to get all employees, executives, and board members on the same page. On a clear sunny day you can all agree on the policies and procedures that need to be followed for effective crisis communications. Make sure your plan goes beyond standard operating procedures.  Also, make sure it doesn’t rely on only the expertise of your public relations team. The plan must be so thorough that nothing in the process is forgotten, yet easy enough to understand and follow that it can be executed by anyone who can read.

Step 3: Hold an Annual Crisis Drill

Too many cooperatives make the mistake of thinking their executives can wing it in a crisis. They think a gift of gab equates to being a great spokesperson. They also think that knowledge of the business equips them to manage a crisis and the communications for that crisis.

The secret to getting it right on your darkest day is to set aside time on a clear sunny day to hold a crisis drill. During your drill your emergency managers can run a table-top exercise. Your communications team and executives act out a real-time exercise, complete with news conferences, using role players to portray the media.

DSC_0011When done correctly, a drill exposes bad decision-making, bad behavior and outright incompetence among responders, spokespeople and those in leadership roles. Conversely, annual drills teach your team members how to effectively work together during a crisis. Team members are taught to achieve effective communications while also working to end the crisis.

As your facilitator prepares your drill scenario, make sure you include realistic elements of social media, since social media can spread good and bad news faster and further than the reach of traditional media.

Conclusion

As more cities sprawl into rural areas, they bring more homes and electric customers into your cooperative territory. The sprawl also brings more media attention and more scrutiny of your operations.

The best way to prepare for the increased attention you will get, is to plan on a clear sunny day and never to wait for the dark clouds to roll in.

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Type in the coupon code: CRISISCOMPLAN

About the author: Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC has helped organizations on 5 continents communicate more effectively with the media, employees and customers in good times and bad. He facilitates writing retreats and workshops to help cooperatives write and complete their crisis communications plans in just 2 days. He also trains cooperative board members and leaders on how to become effective spokespeople.

{Attendees at 2014 NRECA CEO Close-up can download a copy of the handouts hereAttendees at the 2013-Leader-Fan-PowerSouth can download a copy of the handouts here: Attendees at 2013-HitsFan-OK-Coops: Attendees for MREA Co-op Communicators Meeting can download your handouts here: Attendees at the NRECA Connect 2013 can download a copy of the handout here: Braud-NRECA-Handout.}

Compare and Contrast News Stories: Secrets of the Media

By Gerard Braud

{Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 iReporters. This is part of a series of articles about how you can be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.}

IReport Voting pageAs you read this, please be so kind as to also click this link to vote for me as CNN’s iReporter of the Year…  I’m one of 36 finalists and your 30 seconds of support daily through May 5, 2013, is greatly appreciated.

The news media love to show the contrast between what was and what is. If the media are going to do this anyway, you should anticipate it and plan your public relations strategy, media training strategy or crisis communications strategy to take advantage of this.

It is disappointing that the videos shown in my nomination for In-Depth Storytelling for the iReporter Awards focuses only on my reports after Hurricane Isaac. It was actually my CNN iReports before Hurricane Isaac that got the attention of network news producers, which triggered their calls to me to appear live on HLN during the CNN/HLN Evening Express program and the Dr. Drew program.

Here is the how, why and what I did, so you can do the same thing.

Reporters, anchors and media unfamiliar with a particular location don’t know what to expect. Sometimes they have misconceptions, which lead to inaccurate reporting. Sometimes their lack of knowledge makes the audience think the media are biased. Sometimes the local audience thinks the media are stupid. Your effort to make the story easy to tell makes reporters smarter and more accurate.

Since my house on Lake Pontchartrain afforded me a front row seat to the storm, I saw an opportunity to tell an accurate story to and for the media, through my iReports. My experience as a storm chaser and former journalist, positioned me to know that conditions were going to change drastically during Hurricane Isaac. So, my first video iReport Isaac Ireport Gerard Braudforetold that a calm Lake Pontchartrain would overflow its banks, flooding my neighborhood. My video including me showing the calm lake and the beautiful green grass of my yard near New Orleans, then telling how all that you see would be covered with water in 24 hours.

This prediction, as an iReport, got the attention of CNN producers. My strategy all along was to show my flooded neighborhood in my second iReport, which I did.
Isaac Flooding Gerard BraudThis contrast further got the attention of CNN producers. This, in turn, triggered the phone call asking me to do live reports via Skype, G3 and my iPhone 4, all while I had no electricity and 7 feet of water surrounding my house.

These news reports further set the stage to keep telling the story as conditions deteriorated. Next came the report of the physical damage to my home, followed by stories of massive amounts of debris, followed by reports of dead animals, and the reports of live alligators.Debris from Isaac Gerard Braud

The compare and contrast story should be a standard part of your story telling, whether you are filing an iReport, writing a news release, or communicating directly to the media during a crisis. Recognize what is… recognize what was… then compare the two in order to add perspective to your story and situation. This should be done by your corporate spokesperson, Public Information Officers (PIOs) at the state, county and city level, and anyone who must serve as the spokesperson during an unfolding news event.

In our next article, you’ll learn how to manage the expectations of your audience.

Thank you again for your daily votes through May 5th

My reports are in the In-Depth Storytelling category under Isaac’s Aftermath.

To learn more, here are links to previous articles on this topic:

Get the Right tools to be a good iReporter

Set Up Your CNN iReport Account on a Sunny Day

Hurricane Isaac: iReports Before, During and After. Is This Guy Crazy?

 

Get the Right Tools to Be a Good iReporter

By Gerard Braud 

{Editor’s note: In 2013, CNN selected me as one of their top iReporters, out of more than 11,000 iReporters. This is part of a series of articles about how you can be a good iReporter and how to make CNN iReports a vital part of your crisis communication and media relations strategy.}

IReport Voting pageAs you read this, please be so kind as to also click this link to vote for me as CNN’s iReporter of the Year…  I’m one of 36 finalists and your 30 seconds of support is greatly appreciated.

As an iReport Evangelist, my favorite 2 iReport tools are my iPhone and my iPad. These are my favorite crisis communications tools as well.

You are welcome to use any brand of phone or tablet you like, as long as you can

1) Take video of yourself with it

2) Upload that video to the Internet.

Getting to the internet means you either need a reliable Wi-Fi signal or a good G3 or G4 signal on your device.

Raw video, also known in the news business as B-roll, is one type of image you can send to iReports. They also accept still photos. However, my favorite approach is to do a traditional television news style reporter standup. Standup is the TV term for the reporter walking and talking on camera.

Tropical Storm Lee iReportSome early generations of smart phones only allow you to use your phone screen as a video view-finder while you take a picture or video of something in front of you. Ideally, you want a smart phone or tablet that has a two-way camera — the one that allows you to hold your tablet or phone at arms length while you see yourself on the screen.

Your goal in the standup should be to make it short – usually 38 seconds. The short length makes it easy and fast to upload. Sometimes longer videos will not upload because of a lack of bandwidth, especially during a crisis or during bad weather. When doing a standup, your goal should also be to walk, talk and provide information in a quotable nugget, just as you will learn if you have ever been through a media training class. Because of this technology and demand, I’ve changed the way I teach media training classes to teach spokespeople how to walk and talk and deliver great information in a quick nugget. As you deliver your standup, you must also speak in a conversational tone and not in a stiff, rehearsed sounding voice.

Because my goal is to convert my iReports into Live interviews, I also have the right software. Skype on my iPhone and iPad, connected to the web, becomes my source for broadcasting Live. This means that you need to set up a Skype account on a clear sunny day, before you ever actually need it. Just like any other technology, you have to practice using it in order to get it right when you need it quickly in a crisis.

When I report Live for CNN, I’m asked to call one of their many Skype numbers. When I report Live for The Weather Channel, they phone my Skype number.

Gerard Braud Media Training and Crisis Communication with IPad IPhoneThe iPad is my favorite out of my 2 devices, because I love the size of the screen and the quality of the camera. However, it is heavier and harder to hold. Some iPad cases make it easier. Several companies also make iPad tripod devices. While a tripod provides a steady image, the downside is that you are unable to walk and talk to tell your story. In rainy conditions, the iPhone is easier to keep dry. You can use a baggie with a hole cut in it for the camera.

In our next article, you will learn what types of stories get the best attention.

If you have questions, tweet me @gbraud or send an e-mail to gerard@braudcommunications.com