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Crisis Communication Podcast: Factual, Fast & No Fluff

In this episode of PRSay, the podcast of the Houston Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, Veronica V. Sopher Public Relations, interviews crisis communications expert Gerard Braud.

First, we discuss how Gerard’s career path led him to being on the forefront of crisis communications, and how it is evolving all the time.

Listen here:

Second, we discuss the difficulties and challenges public relations and corporate communications professionals face when they try to write news releases during a crisis. SituationHub, the first of its kind software that can automatically write a news release during a crisis in 3 to 5 minutes, handles these challenges. When companies communicate fast and effectively, they preserve their revenue reputation, and brand.

Third, Gerard explains his formula and how he likens crisis communication to a well-practiced, very specific recipe. He explains what you need to do in a crisis to effectively communicate to your audience.

 

To set crisis communications goals, talk about your needs, and formulate a budget, schedule a complimentary, confidential call with me https://calendly.com/braud/15min

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

15 Questions to Ask Before You Use Facebook for Crisis Communications

Can You Handle a Crisis When it Hits by Winging It?

Where is Your Crisis Communications Funnel Clogged?

Where is Your Crisis Communications Funnel Clogged?

When we think about effectively communicating in a crisis, we often think about getting out information FAST, like at the speed of Twitter fast. But, we have so many hangups that get in the way of getting that information out.

Tell us where your clog is when it comes to your crisis communications funnel? Experience tells me it gets clogged in one of three, critical places listed below. So which of these affects you the most?

 

Do you have the most trouble:

 

  1. Getting the initial information from the source of the emerging situation or potential crisis?

 

  1. Getting leaders to quickly send that information to the crisis communications or public relations team?

 

  1. Getting approval (from your boss, your leadership team, your CEO, your legal team) of your final statement or news release, to share with employees, the media, and/or your stakeholders.

 

  1. Other…

 

Please format your answer as follows:

 

In my crisis communications funnel, the biggest clog can usually be found ____ .

 

The funnel is the pathway in which you gather information about an unfolding situation, get it to the right people, and then issue a statement to your employees, media, and stakeholders. See here: 

 

If you are not familiar with the Crisis Communications Funnel concept, or if issuing a public statement sounds stressful, daunting, or challenging for you just call me https://calendly.com/braud/15min and I’ll gladly point you to more resources. 

 

 

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

Spring Sprint for a Crisis Communications Plan

How to do an Online Media Interview: Media Training Tips

How Do You Sleep at Night Without a Crisis Communication Plan?

 

 

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Spring Sprint for a Crisis Communications Plan

Complete a huge task in less than five days. Complete a daunting task in less than five days.

Traditionally, companies set up endless meetings and an inflated collaboration process. People will spend three months to two years talking about the “process” and never really create a usable set of crisis management tools. And during the drawn-out process, a crisis might hit and everyone is still unprepared. They have no tools in their toolbox; only notes from those endless meetings.

Does that sound familiar? If it does, let’s stop that vicious cycle and start sprinting through the crisis communications process.

Run. Don’t walk. Deadlines will always be there. Annual meetings will always be there. Let them lie.

Doing crisis communications effectively can take a long time; a really long time. Let’s stop doing that. Let’s do it faster. Let’s find a better way. Let’s sprint! What better time than Spring? It’s after the holidays and before the summer holidays, so your team should be more in tune.

A “sprint” is a process for solving big problems and tackling big tasks in five days or less. It’s about both efficiency and focus.

To simplify your goalsetting and ability to accomplish tasks, you have to break them down into smaller, faster, more achievable tasks. That’s why I created the Five Steps to Effective Crisis Communications.

What would take your company or organization months to complete, you can now complete in five days or less, with a crisis communications sprint. Here are all of the Five Steps to Effective Crisis Communications you can complete virtually or in person:

Crisis Vulnerability Assessment

Here is when you ask yourself and your team, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” Your roadmap to crisis communications begins as you imagine and evaluate all the situations that could go wrong. We are ready to partner with you to harvest insights from your team. Ask about our one-day Vulnerability Assessment Sprint to begin your crisis communications planning.

Crisis Communications Plan

Ask yourself, as a situation unfolds, “Can my organization take control in the first few minutes?” The best crisis communications plan plots every step before, during, and after a crisis. If you fail to plan, plan to fail. Our “sprint” crisis communications system can put a plan in place in one day.

Crisis Pre-written Statements

When you think about writing a public statement, do you get bogged down with second-guessing, word-smithing, and fighting with your legal team, team members, or boss over commas? Save time by using our library of pre-written statements for the media, employees, customers, and stakeholders. Ask about our pre-written statement sprint, which can be delivered in one day.

Crisis Spokesperson Media Training

One misplaced word can be costly.  When revenue, reputation, and brand are on the line, there is no margin for error.  We’ve seen companies lose hundreds of millions of dollars in a 12-second sound bite. Our crisis communications media training gets your spokespeople prepared to handle tough questions on your toughest day.

Crisis Communication Drills

Do you routinely test your crisis management team, crisis communications plan, and spokespeople? Practice makes perfect.  A crisis drill allows you to make mistakes in private so you never make those mistakes on the day of your crisis. Add a virtual crisis drill to your crisis communications sprint commitment.

We care about your reputation, revenue, and brand. We hope you do too.

Here is your sprint roadmap. Would you like us to sprint with you?

To set goals, talk about your needs, and formulate a budget, schedule a complimentary, confidential call with me https://calendly.com/braud/15min

 

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

Can You Handle a Crisis When it Hits by Winging It?

15 Questions to Ask Before You Use Facebook for Crisis Communications

Crisis Management Lessons from Hurricane Katrina vs. COVID19

Photo by Steven Lelham on Unsplash

How Do You Sleep at Night Without a Crisis Communication Plan?

Some professional communicators get it. They want to be prepared. They have statements ready for the public in a crisis. They are trained as spokespeople or have their team members ready to be on camera. They have a crisis communication plan on file that they can refer to quickly in a crisis. They have sought approval and funding from their executives on proper crisis communication planning.

In this video, we ask public relations professional for Coast Electric, Melissa Russo, “Should a PR person prepare for a crisis or should they wing it and rely on hope?” Of course, the answer sounds obvious, but you might be surprised to know that too many PR professionals still wing their response to a crisis.

Melissa explains how she plans for effective crisis communications in the video here:

 

 

Visit this link to enjoy a full replay of this Master Class sponsored by SituationHub.com.

Use this link to schedule a free, private call https://calendly.com/braud/15min

To schedule a free, confidential demo for the crisis communications software SituationHub, visit: https://www.situationhub.com/

 

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications: Master Class #1

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson

Crisis Communications Master Class: The Golden Hour

Last week’s crisis communications master class focused on the golden hour, a very critical time for those facing a crisis. If your company is facing a crisis, you must issue a statement to employees, the media, customers, and other stakeholders within one hour or less of the situation becoming known to the public. If you fail to communicate during the crisis communications golden hour, the narrative will get captured by others who may not know all of the facts.

What they post to social media will likely damage your revenue, reputation, and brand. The effects of that damage can be long-lasting. In this master class, we talk with Doug Levy, author of The Communications Golden Hour. Your host is SituationHub Founder and crisis communications expert Gerard Braud. The SituationHub crisis communications software platform can not only help you communicate effectively during the crisis communications golden hour, but SituationHub can actually write your first communications statement in 1-3 minutes. It turns the golden hour into the golden minutes.

Replay – Free Master Class – The Crisis Communications Golden Hour

Minutes and seconds count in a crisis. If you missed Thursday’s free Master class, the replay is now online.

Use this link to access the content.

Preparation is the key to fast crisis response. We dig deeper into the need for speed in your crisis communications and explore the tools you need to effectively communicate.

We discuss:

  • How to organize communications so that crucial information gets out fast
  • Why some messages work better than others
  • How to choose the right words
  • Skills to be an effective spokesperson
  • What you need to know about special populations or other unique factors in your audience

Your free registration for this Master Class is a gift from SituationHub.com. If your company has the potential to experience a crisis (and you know it does),

SituationHub is the fastest way to:

  • Gather the facts
  • Confirm the facts
  • Notify your crisis team
  • Write a statement for the media, your employees, and stakeholders.
  • …and do it all in a remarkable 3-10 minutes.

Be well; Be safe,

The SituationHub Team

SituationHub.com makes crisis communications move at the speed of social media. Use this link to schedule a free, private call https://calendly.com/braud/15min

To schedule a free, confidential demo for the crisis communications software SituationHub, visit: https://www.situationhub.com/#demo

CONNECT: https://twitter.com/situationhub

VISIT OUR SITE: https://www.situationhub.com/

Facebook Crisis Communication Lessons

The Facebook crisis communications lessons are many. The explosive interview on 60 Minutes and the testimony before Congress from whistleblower Frances Haugen confirms and reinforces the crisis communication lessons we discussed in the SituationHub Master Class that originally aired live on March 11, 2021. The Master Class is called The Social Media Conundrum. You’ll want to watch that program, in which we zeroed in on why Facebook’s algorithms are built against you in a crisis.  

Essentially, Haugen confirmed how the algorithms focus on your bad news and get your crisis event in front of more eyeballs on Facebook, while your good news perishes. It’s why we strongly urge our clients NOT to use Facebook as part of their crisis communications strategy. A key takeaway line from social media marketing expert Jay Baer was his observation that you should never build your house on rented property, i.e. Facebook is rented property. You are better to build your house on your website.

We’ve often defined a crisis as any event that can damage an organization’s reputation, revenue, and brand. This week, Facebook is the poster child of crisis communication lessons.

  • A whistleblower calls out Facebook’s algorithms on 60 Minutes
  • Facebook’s stock value immediately takes a nosedive
  • Social media lights up with #DeleteFacebook
  • The whistleblower calls out Facebook’s algorithms before Congress
  • Facebook crashes
  • Facebook is slow to issue a crisis communications statement about its own crisis

Facebook’s response and behavior are very similar to how big tobacco and big chemical behaved in the 1970s. The chemical industry has made huge strides in their efforts to reduce chemical emissions, as well as in their crisis response. Big tobacco has seen their clientele disappear as it attempts to morph into a vaping business.

The Facebook crisis communications lessons will continue. Winston Churchill once said,

Never waste a good crisis.”

To that extent, we believe that every crisis is a living classroom and worthy of your attention so you can learn from the success or failure of others in crisis. The lessons learned should serve as an incentive for you to engage in the 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications, so you can have the tools to communicate effectively should you face a crisis. 

The Facebook crisis is a treasure trove of how not to handle a crisis. We suspect things will get much worse in the days and weeks ahead.

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

15 Questions to Ask Before You Use Facebook for Crisis Communications

Can You Handle a Crisis When it Hits by Winging It?

Crisis Management Lessons from Hurricane Katrina vs. COVID19

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Pumpkin Spice Crisis Communications

Pumpkin spice crisis communications is the latest craze among companies, CEOs, and public relations professionals. These are people who realize that Fall is here. We’re in the final quarter of the year, and they have failed to meet their goal of completing a crisis communications plan, their crisis communications news releases, their crisis drills, and the other components of their crisis communications strategies.

To welcome Fall and to embrace whatever panic you may have, we’re ready to help you sprint through the 5 Steps of Effective Crisis Communications. Just smell the aroma of rich crisis communications plan nutmeg, cinnamon news releases, ginger media training, and accents of cloves in your crisis communications drill!

Your challenge is to take a huge task – Crisis Communications – and make that task easy and fast. Fortunately, we pioneered this concept for you back in 2005. We figured out a way to let you customize a crisis communications plan in… you ready for this? Drum roll… five hours.

Yep, you can have a finished plan in five hours as we sprint through the process. (Of course, the secret pumpkin spice ingredient is that we’ve put more than 25 years of experience and more than 6,000 hours into development, just so you can create crisis communications magic in five hours.)

Sure, you can cook up your own crisis communications plan if you have 2,000 to 4,000 hours sitting on your spice rack… and who doesn’t? But if you don’t have the extra time, our Crisis Communications Sprint system is like pulling a box of carrot cake mix off the shelf in the morning and having a perfect crisis communications plan finished before dinner.

Your crisis communications plan is Step 2 of the 5 Steps. On the front end, you need to conduct a Vulnerability Assessment to evaluate all the “stuff” that might “hit the fan.” That’s Step 1.

The secret sauce to your crisis communications plan should be having a deep library of pre-written news releases. That’s Step 3. We have 100 pre-written news releases with your name on it. However, for some of you, your best bet is to subscribe to the SituationHub crisis communications news release app. SituationHub can actually write an advanced crisis communications news release in 3-5 minutes.

Some of you realize your greatest need to train your spokespeople. We call that Step 4, but often it is a perfect standalone training class. A single misplaced word can damage a company’s revenue, reputation, and brand in ways that are as foul as putting dill in your pumpkin spice mix.

The icing on the cake is Step 5, when you conduct a Crisis Communications Drill. That’s when you get to test your crisis communications plan, your crisis communications news release, you get to test your spokespeople, and you get to test the ability of your entire team to work together. A crisis communications drill can be agonizing and exhilarating all at the same time. Most importantly, it lets you make mistakes in private so you can correct them in private, without ever making those mistakes in public.

So, what is your next step? How about a free discovery call to discuss your specific needs?

Pull up a chair, order a Pumpkin Spice Latte, and how about you and I chat about your Pumpkin Spice Crisis Communications needs?

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

15 Questions to Ask Before You Use Facebook for Crisis Communications

Can You Handle a Crisis When it Hits by Winging It?

Crisis Management Lessons from Hurricane Katrina vs. COVID19

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

Crisis Communications Tip: Mind the Gap

Today’s crisis communications tip is to Mind the Gap. There is a gap of time between the flashpoint of your crisis and the time in which your first crisis news release statement is released to the world. You need to communicate the truth. If you fail to do so, you create a Truth Gap.

If you’ve been to the London subway, you’ve seen signs that say, “Mind the Gap.” There is a gap between the subway station platform and the subway train door. If you don’t “mind the gap” you will step into a gap that will injure or kill you. In crisis communications, if you don’t mind the gap, you will injure or kill your revenue, reputation, and brand.

My challenge to you is to close the gap in your crisis communications process in order to release a statement to the media, your employees, and your other key stakeholders much faster than ever before.

In a previous blog, we talked about how the SituationHub.com crisis communications software application can transform the Crisis Communications Golden Hour into Golden Minutes.

Social media has made the gap in crisis communications worse because Twitter and Facebook Live are telling the story in the first minute, while most companies take three or more hours before they release a statement to the media, their employees, and other key stakeholders.

Close the Gap

The three best ways to close the gap include:

  1. Write a crisis communications plan that dictates speed.
  2. Use the SituationHub.com app to write news releases in 3-5 minutes or have a library of pre-written news release statements as Microsoft Word documents.
  3. Hold regular crisis communications drills to test your plan, your process, and your people.

Regarding #1, most crisis communications plans only outline a list of tasks to be done. Very few light a fire under anyone’s butt. Your plan needs to light that fire. Speed is king.

One secret to speed is for your plan to outline how you can release small bits of information a little at a time.

You don’t need to know everything before you say anything.

As long as you are accurate and you do not speculate, a little information is better than no information and it is better than waiting until you know everything. Simply close the statement by saying,

Members of our team are gathering additional information and we will share that information with you as soon as possible.

Regarding #2, most crisis communications plans have holding statements. I like a feature in the SituationHub app called “The First Critical Statement.” Depending upon the situation, the app will ask you 10 to 20 questions, then based on your answers it will automatically write your holding statement. It covers the basics that all reporters want to know, such as who, what, when, and where. To the delight of your lawyers, why and how are addressed in sentences that deflect speculation. And to add a cherry on top of your news release statement, lawyers and executives can pre-approve the language the day you subscribe to the app, rather than on the day of your crisis when seconds count.

At the time we are writing this, SituationHub offers 50 to 75 detailed news releases for a variety of companies, including electric companies, chemical companies, credit unions and banks, schools and universities, and general businesses. We’re told that the app will be adding government and healthcare options next.

Regarding #3, a crisis communications drill lets you make mistakes in private, so you don’t make mistakes in public. This allows you to test your plan to make sure it works as designed. You also get to test the ability of your people to follow directions and evaluate who goes “off script.” You get to test your ability to mind the gap and close the gap with pre-written news release statements. You also get to test your spokespeople in mock news conferences.

Oh, and regarding spokespeople and news conferences, the SituationHub crisis communications software also generates a written script for spokespeople to read at a news conference. The script pre-answers questions before they are asked by reporters, thereby reducing the number of questions asked during the news conference.

In conclusion, the gap is closing on you because of social media. Take steps today to mind the gap by putting tools in place on a clear sunny day, in order to be your best on your darkest day.

Here are some resources to help you on your crisis communications journey:

  • There are several good videos on the SituationHub page that show the app in action
  • Visit the BraudCast Channel on YouTube for tons of content
  • Dig through our blog for decades of content

The Crisis Communications Golden Hour

The crisis communications golden hour is all about the emphasis for companies in crisis to take bold, decisive steps in the first hour, in order to manage both the crisis and the public’s perception of the crisis.

But the crisis communications golden hour really needs to be reduced to the crisis communications golden minutes.

Have you heard about SituationHub.com? It is a new crisis communications software application that allows a company to quickly gather information about a crisis and generate a news release or crisis statement in 3 to 5 minutes.

SituationHub is a game-changer because it is the first time crisis communications can move at the speed of social media.

The flaw with the crisis communications golden hour concept is that Twitter and Facebook Live happen during the first minute of a crisis. SituationHub closes the gap because it automates the crisis communications process, and it automates the writing of a news release or crisis statement.

SituationHub has forced me to re-write my crisis communications plan template. For more than 25 years my crisis communications plans have evolved, but when one of my clients uses SituationHub, the first five chapters of my crisis communications plan becomes five sentences:

  • Log into SituationHub.com
  • Select your situation
  • Answer the questions
  • Alert your internal crisis team
  • Publish your statement for the media, employees, customers, and stakeholders

The One Hour Rule

Historically, we know that the longer it takes a company to issue a statement about a situation or crisis, the more damage that company is likely to experience to its revenue, reputation, and brand.

Historically, my crisis communications plans dictated that the user must issue a statement to the media, employees, and all stakeholders within one hour or less of the onset of the crisis going public.

That’s worked for me, but in the back of my mind I’ve been thinking, “That’s still 59 minutes after the first Tweet or Facebook post.”

The Three Hour Reality

I’ve studied crisis situations in my days as a television reporter and my second career in crisis communications. In most cases, more than three hours pass between the flashpoint of the situation and the release of the first statement. That is unacceptable!

Why is this?

  1. Most companies fail to write a proper crisis communications plan on a clear sunny day.
  2. Most companies fail to have a library of pre-written news releases for their crisis events. Hence, valuable time is lost writing a first draft statement, then having that statement marked up and edited by executives, then waiting for the second draft, then waiting for more edits, then releasing a final draft.

Hopefully, more organizations will discover SituationHub and turn the crisis communications golden hour into the crisis communications golden minutes.

Here are some resources to help you on your crisis communications journey:

Covid Crisis Communications: Sample Press Release

by Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

Your COVID crisis communications plan and your COVID crisis communication pre-written news releases need to be modified immediately if your organization is being attacked over policies related to COVID-19 mask requirements or vaccine mandates.

Daily we see news reports of school boards, city councils, and county governments being attacked for their position. Likewise, companies, restaurants, bars, and retail businesses are also in crisis mode as they deal with the Delta Variant.

So what do you do?

I’ve used a crisis communications secret for decades to harness the power of a written and spoken preamble. (One of the things that I love about the SituationHub.com crisis communications app is that every crisis statement has a preamble already written and baked into the crisis news releases that the app writes.)

If you are responsible for making an opening statement in a public meeting or if you have to issue a written news release, the preamble states the organization’s 1) noble purpose and 2) goals.

For example, the president of the school board might make the following statement:

“At the Harris County School Board, our goal is to educate children in a safe and nurturing environment. Effective learning is best accomplished when we are able to have in-person learning, and when our population of both students and faculty are healthy.”

Such a preamble must also be true. You want everyone in the audience to nod their head in agreement.

Admittedly, you will never win over everyone, but your goal should be to win over two-thirds of your intended audience.

Your next sentence must state your action while using the preamble to justify your action. For example:

“In order for us to have in-person learning and in order for the learning environment to be safe for all of our students, staff and faculty, we are establishing the following requirements.”

(Example)

“All children over the age of (X) and all staff and faculty will be required to wear a mask.

All children over the age of (X) and all staff and faculty will be required to have a vaccination.”

If this were your official position, you would then be attacked by those who think masks and/or vaccinations should not be required. Your job in crisis communications is to know that such an attack represents a vulnerability that needs to be researched in advance. (See our past articles on Vulnerability Assessments and the 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications. You can even watch the SituationHub.com Master Class on this topic.)

A Vulnerability Assessment will tell you what the objections are of those in opposition to your position, such as:

  • A violation of personal liberty
  • Religious exemptions
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Medical conditions

Therefore, your next statement should acknowledge those objections, in a way that allows those in opposition to nod their heads in agreement that you understand them, such as:

“We recognize that some members of our community may be opposed to this. Some people feel that this violates their personal liberties and freedoms. Some people may say it affects breathing, medical conditions, or religious beliefs. We understand this and we respect that you have strong feelings on this issue.”

Next comes your alternatives to the opposition:

“If your child is not vaccinated and if you prohibit your child from wearing a mask, you will have several options. We will offer remote learning options and parents also have the option to homeschool their children.”

Next, tie everything back to your preamble:

“Ultimately, our goal is to educate children in a safe and nurturing environment. Effective learning is best accomplished when we can have in-person learning, and when our population of both students and faculty are healthy. Health experts tell us that the two most effective tools at our disposal are masks and vaccinations.”

Now address the objections directly, while reinforcing your stand, credit third-party experts, and tie your position back to your preamble.

“We know some people may question the effectiveness of masks. We know some people may question the safety of vaccines. However, experts tell us that masking and vaccinations are the two most effective tools at our disposal. And in order to keep our children safe, experts tell us that the benefits far outweigh the risks.”

Next, dispel any beliefs in the audience that have not been addressed previously, for example:

“Some may question whether this infringes on your liberties and personal freedoms. Some may question if this is an overreach by the government or businesses. Here are examples of similar rules already in place in our society:

  • If you go to a restaurant, you’ve likely seen a sign that says, ‘No shirt, no shoes, no service.’ This is an example of the rights granted to a business, for the safety, comfort, and respect of all of the other patrons.
  • If you drive, you must wear a seat belt.
  • If you drive, you cannot be drunk.
  • If you go into an industrial facility, you must follow safety requirements, such as wearing safety glasses or perhaps a bright, reflective vest, or other safety garments and apparatuses.
  • In school, vaccination requirements already exists.

Our society is full of requirements designed to keep the vast majority of people safe. These rules are in place for the safety of each individual and the safety of society at large.”

Now, reinforce the above statement with a tie to your preamble:

“If our goal is to provide education in a safe environment for our students, we must keep them from getting COVID and we must keep them from spreading COVID to their parents and grandparents.”

Now give a real-life example of the tragedy that you wish to avoid while conveying emotion and empathy, which are critical in effective crisis communications.

“How would you feel if one of our students died from COVID? How would you feel if one of our parents died of COVID because a child brought the infection home from school? How empty would the holidays be if a grandparent had died of COVID because they received a loving hug from a child who got COVID at school?”

Now put a bow on it.

“Every decision this board makes, must always focus on two things: the education of your child and the safety of your child.”

If you structure your crisis communications statement, news release, policy, or letter in this way, every objection that you get simply requires you to retreat and repeat, i.e. retreat to a previous statement and repeat it.

As a society, I’ve never witnessed a crisis in which there are opposing points of view. For example, if a house is burning, everyone is in agreement that those inside should be rescued and that the fire should be put out.

But the reality is, we live in polarizing times where anger and outrage are weaponized, fueled by politics and social media.

  1. Identify your position.
  2. Take your stand.
  3. Write your crisis communications statement.
  4. Use your statement to defend your position and answer all objections.
  5. Stand by your stand.

If we can assist you, please contact us at gerard@braudcommunications.com

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

15 Questions to Ask Before You Use Facebook for Crisis Communications

Can You Handle a Crisis When it Hits by Winging It?

Crisis Management Lessons from Hurricane Katrina vs. COVID19

Photo by Sam McGhee on Unsplash