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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

‘Sprint’ to More Effective Crisis Communications

Be Prepared. Be Fast. Sprint!

Doing crisis communications right 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!

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 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 doing that, which doesn’t work, and start sprinting through the crisis communications process.

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:

Crisis Vulnerability Assessment

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

As a situation unfolds, can your 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 write a statement, is the review process bogged down in second-guessing, word-smithing, and fights 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

When revenue, reputation, and brand are on the line, there is no margin for error. One misplaced word can be costly. 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

Practice makes perfect. Do you routinely test your crisis management team, crisis communications plan, and spokespeople? 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 to.

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:

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

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

This video asks the question, “Should a PR person prepare for a crisis or should they wing it and rely on hope?” You may know the obvious answer, but you might be surprised to know that too many PR professionals still wing their response to a crisis.

Planning it requires writing vulnerability assessments, writing a thorough crisis communications plan, and having a library of pre-written news releases. These are all time-consuming tasks. So how do you manage it all? We asked Melissa Russo, public relations professional for Coast Electric, to share her strategy for planning it, winging it, or hoping for the best.

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/

More crisis communications articles:

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…”

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

Is Social Media a Good Tool for Crisis Communications?

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC 

When a crisis hits, should you be engaging on social media with your clients, customers, and stakeholders? Is it better to comment, provide updates, and feedback on social media or to stay silent? Is it the BEST crisis communications tool or just part of your communications toolbox?

As a crisis communications expert, I’m taking the pulse of two public relations professionals in the rural electric cooperative industry, to hear their experience with social media and how companies who have decided to use it, and who have decided not to use it have faired in the unique and individual crises they have faced.

To enjoy a full replay of this Master Class sponsored by SituationHub.com visit this link.

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

Your October Assignment: The Truth About Vulnerability Assessments During COVID-19

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

Sexiest, teasing headline you’ve ever read, huh? Makes you want to put on your old t-shirt that says, “Only Real Men & Women Do Regular Vulnerability Assessments.”

Joking aside, you need to get on this. Here is the how and why…

We’re 8-9 months into a crisis that should have ended somewhere in the 90 to 120 day range.

Early on, it was your only crisis to manage and for which you had to communicate. I’m proud of you. After the first surge of communications, many organizations fell into COVID fatigue. That was followed by COVID limbo.

But now COVID-19 is part of a compound crisis and it is your responsibility to assess the threats and vulnerabilities that your organization could face next.

Here’s What’s Changed

Generally in the world of public relations and crisis communications, an expert would say the first and the best thing you should do as part of the crisis communication process is to assess every vulnerability that could affect the revenue, reputation, and brand of your organization.

Your initial Vulnerability Assessment is Step 1, and it becomes your roadmap for your next four steps, which include:

  • Step 2: Writing your crisis communications plan
  • Step 3: Writing a library of pre-written statements for your employees, media, customers, community, and other stakeholders.
  • Step 4: Media training your spokespeople (including virtual training)
  • Step 5: Crisis communications drills (including virtual drills)

Traditionally you would do an initial Vulnerability Assessment, followed by quarterly meetings with managers to identify and prepare for new or emerging vulnerabilities. For example, COVID-19 was not really on anyone’s Vulnerability Assessment one year ago. Nine months ago at your quarterly meeting, COVID-19 and all of the issues around it should have been added to your list.

Once on the list, you would update your crisis communications plan if necessary, adding pre-written news releases for COVID-19 protocol, response, outbreaks, and potential fatalities.

More is Better

We’re now recommending to our clients that the frequency should be increased from quarterly to monthly, because most organizations are facing compound crises, such as COVID + hurricane, COVID + wildfires, COVID + you name it.

Would you like some additional resources?

  1. Watch today’s video. It has a clip from a crisis communications Master Class I recently taught for SituationHub.com
  2. Watch the entire Master Class
  3. Watch our 5-part video series on the five steps to effective crisis communications.
  4. Get help with your Vulnerability Assessment by scheduling a free, confidential phone call with us.

COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon. Please prepare for what comes next. Please step up the frequency of your Vulnerability Assessments.

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:

Covid-19 Crisis Communications Webinar Recording

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

Coronavirus Crisis Communications Plan Truths

Here we are entering the middle of summer, where we can reflect on and learn from the unprecedented crises that have taken place in the past few months. As the crises unfolded, I wrote about how you can communicate more effectively in these various situations. Let’s look back at where we’ve been this Spring, and examine what rings true for crisis communications, corporate communications, and protecting your revenue, reputation, and brand today.

At the first signs of the Coronavirus, in this blog, I warned companies to get professional media training and to assess the vulnerabilities of their particular organization. I explained that by preparing for the crisis, you could show your executive leadership team you are thinking ahead and thinking on their behalf. Watch the video here:

As the pandemic unfolded I advised in this blog that the answer is YES, you do NEED a crisis communications plan for COVID-19 and other vulnerabilities, and provided 5 steps to write a crisis plan:

I continued to provide update after update, even discussing how to do virtual media interviews, since they were suddenly a MUST, and we all needed to learn to adapt and communicate in a new way.

Finally, I addressed the truth that no one wanted to address. I predicted this pandemic would likely last through the summer, and it became clear that we would not only need to manage the Coronavirus, but we would also need to manage Coronavirus + Tornado (that later ripped through my hometown), or Coronavirus + Weather Events as we entered hurricane season (we were hit later by Cristobal), AND the crises that our organizations are always vulnerable to – such as explosions, fires, power outages, crime, social media firestorms, and more. You can read the blog here.

In this blog in May, I warned that the issue of wearing masks vs. not wearing masks could spur on political issues, protests, and outrage among our country.

As protests took over our country, I was quiet. Social media and the internet was too noisy, too complicated, and too hostile for a time. The point now is not to say “I told you so,” but to acknowledge that when one crisis hits, we have to be prepared, and that we have to prepare for all of the regular challenges and crises that can occur in addition to that initial crisis.

Hopefully, by reflecting on the last few months, you are more motivated now than ever to prepare. You have work to do. It’s challenging to write a crisis communications plan. It’s challenging to think about such tragic events that could happen to your company. But as we can see, they do happen, they can last for months, and they can pile on top of each other.

I’ve broken down

How to write a crisis plan in 5 steps:

1. Start with analyzing the vulnerabilities of your company to certain crises.

2. Write a thorough crisis plan that addresses and outlines every last detail.

3. Write pre-written news releases that you can deliver to the media and the public in less than one hour.

4. Have your spokespeople and your leadership team professionally media trained.

5. Conduct realistic crisis drills.

This can all be done virtually, and I’m here to help.

This 5-part video series outlining the 5 Steps to a Crisis Communications Plan can make your path easier. Schedule a call with me so that I can walk you through it or answer any questions you might have.

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:

Covid-19 Crisis Communications Webinar Recording

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash