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How is Gardening Like Crisis Communications Planning?

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

How does your personal life reflect who you are in your professional life? In my life it is easy. All you have to do is look at my backyard garden. It personifies my professional life in crisis communications planning.

Two things about this garden should catch your attention.

First: I use boxes instead of rows, which means I’m making a long-term commitment as a yard-to-table gardener.

Secondly: I have already tilled the soil and begun planting my garden in February, which means 60 days from now, I might be eating the first big, juicy Louisiana Creole tomato, if I don’t get an artic blast or a freeze.

What happens in my garden now, affects what happens 60, 90, and 180 days from now.

Your approach to crisis communications should be the same way in 2019. You should be putting dates on the calendar now for the fruit you want to harvest later this year.

This year, you can easily execute all 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications. If you’d like more details, just sign up for my free 5-day video class.

  • Under the 5-Steps process, right now in cold February, you should be working on your 2019 Vulnerability Assessment.
  • By late March and early April you should be working on your crisis communications plan and it should be ready to harvest 60 days from now.
  • In May, June, and July, you should be creating a library of pre-written news releases.
  • Next, you will schedule Media Training for your spokespeople, followed by a Crisis Communications Drill.

Can it be done? Yes, it takes planning. Do It Now!

Can you do it yourself or should you hire someone like me? Well, you can plant your own garden and harvest your own vegetables – which takes a lot of time and work. Or, you can go to the store and buy what you need for immediate gratification.

I’ve invested 4,000 hours into the crisis communications plans and the library of pre-written news releases that I license to companies all around the word. The entire system is delivered in just two days. Think about it – 4,000 hours means you would have to work 40 hours a week on nothing but crisis communications for two entire years to have what I’ve created… or you can call me at 985-624-9976 and in two days, you are feasting on the fruits of my labor.

Whether you do it yourself or ask me to be your strategic partner, if you have questions, please give me a call.

 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:

Please Pick Me to be Your Media Trainer

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

Crisis Communications Plan for 2019: January Resources

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

In the month of January, we have reviewed a ton of crisis communications tips, public relations strategies, and we outlined effective crisis communication planning. Whether you enjoy a good read of an article, or you prefer to watch an informative video, these resources are readily available to you.

Even though we covered so much material, from 5 Steps to Crisis Communications in 4 Quarters, to the case studies on current crises involving the Covington Catholic Highschool Students, the topics all boil down to one point. You can plan for effective crisis communications year round. You can learn, not just observe the mistakes of other companies and organizations. You can knock items off your to-do list each quarter, and I am here to be your accountability buddy whenever you need me or have a question.

Feel free to review this month’s resources, share them, re-tweet them, show them to your colleagues who won’t put anything on the books. But if you want to get right on track for the year, use this link to get access to a free 5-part video series that explores best practices in crisis communication.

January Resources:

2019 Crisis Communications Goal Setting: 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications

2019 Crisis Communications Planning Based on 2018 Trends

Crisis Communications Planning: Fill Your 2019 Calendar Now

2019 January Forgiveness for Your Crisis Communications Planning

Case Studies:

Bird Box Challenge + 2019 Crisis Communications Plan Challenge

Covington, KY Student vs. Native American Drummer Crisis Case Study

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:

Please Pick Me to be Your Media Trainer

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

Crisis Communications Planning: Fill Your 2019 Calendar Now

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

We’ve been trying to help you prepare for 2019 using the 5-Steps to Effective Crisis Communications strategy, offered in my free 5-Part video series.

But critical to your crisis communications plan, planning, and process, is to get the steps booked on your calendar now. You also have to reach out to colleagues who need to be part of the process to lock in dates on their calendar.

Why?

Too many people start and stop throughout the year in ways that impede productivity. Many people do nothing in January and February because it is so cold. Everyone seems ready to work when spring arrives in March, April, and May. Summer brings everything to a grinding halt as people go on vacation. September is spent trying to get everyone working again. October might be productive. November and December are consumed by holidays.

Stop it. Break the cycle. Schedule events in every quarter of the year.

Send out calendar invitations now so that you can productively work on your 5-Steps to Effective Crisis Communications throughout the entire year by planning.

Send out calendar invitations. Locking in dates.

Don’t let your year get ruined by other people’s calendars.

If you’d like me to be your crisis communications accountability buddy, take advantage of the free phone call offer when you take the 5-Steps to Effective Crisis Communications Challenge.

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:

Please Pick Me to be Your Media Trainer

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

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2019 Crisis Communications Planning Based on 2018 Trends

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

There are many great articles about the biggest PR crises in 2018. Rather than write such an article this year, I thought it would be more effective to help you plan your 2019 crisis communications strategies based on what happened in 2018. Read more

2019 Crisis Communications Goal Setting: 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

January is the time to plan your crisis communications strategy for 2019.

Start by learning about the 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications and spreading the task out over the four quarters of the year. A free 5-part video series is online here to get you started:

  • Quarter 1 is the time to conduct your Vulnerability Assessment, which is Step 1. Mid-Quarter 1 is the time to write your Crisis Communications Plan, which is Step 2.
  • Quarter 2 is the time to write Pre-written News Releases as Step 3, based on your Vulnerability Assessment.
  • Quarter 3 is when you should conduct Media Training as Step 4, based on the pre-written news releases you have written.
  • Quarter 4 is when you should conduct your Crisis Communications Drill, which is Step 5, based on completion of all of the previous steps.

To help you achieve your goals, I’m standing by to be your accountability buddy. When you sign up for the free 5-part video series, you’ll be given a chance to schedule a free 15-minute phone call with me to help you set your goals.

Plus, if you are ready to put things on the fast track, Steps 1, 2 and 3 can be completed in as few as two days with my fully customizable crisis communications plan system.

Bird Box Challenge + 2019 Crisis Communications Plan Challenge

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

We decided to have some fun today and create our own version of the Bird Box Challenge.

If you’ve watched Bird Box, you’ll get it.

If you love Sandra Bullock’s opening monologue, you’ll get it.

If you’ve followed the Bird Box Challenge craze, you’ll get it.

If you haven’t, well then I’ll just look stupid to you.

I’ve managed to capture all of the basic tenants of my crisis communications plan philosophy in only 20 seconds, while also channeling Sandra Bullock’s rage as she talks to the characters “boy” and “girl.”

But on a serious note, if you want to learn more about the 5-Steps to Effective Crisis Communications, use this link to sign up for our free 5-part video series.

Oh, and you can look at the videos. No blindfolds needed. You won’t get hurt.

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:

Please Pick Me to be Your Media Trainer

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

Crisis Communication Question: What Would You Do?

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC


Today’s crisis communication question is, what would you do if there was a fire and explosion where you work?

How long would it take before someone in your company could gather the facts, write a crisis communications news release, get the news release approved by the crisis management team, then released to the media, your employees, your customers, and your community?

One hour? Two hours? Three hours, or more?

The crisis communication case studies I’ve reviewed indicates many companies still take in excess of three hours to issue a statement. That is far too long and frankly, unacceptable.

If your company can’t release at least a basic statement in less than one hour of the onset of the crisis, you are failing.

Let me add a layer of crisis communications reality. There is a chance that a member of the public is instantly posting pictures and videos to social media within minutes of the explosion.

Let me increase your crisis anxiety by pointing out that the eyewitness could be broadcasting the fire and disaster live with Twitter’s PeriscopeFacebook LiveYouTube LiveInstagram Live, and LinkedIn Live, as well as other emerging apps.

With each passing minute that social media is telling your story, you are losing control of the narrative and increasing the potential damage to your company’s reputation and revenue.

The best way to communicate quickly is to

Follow the 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications

To learn more about the 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communication, use this link to get access to a free 5-part video series that explores best practices in crisis communication. This series takes you into a deeper dive than we have time for here.

Step 1 Conduct a vulnerability assessment

The assessment, done on a clear sunny day, identifies everything that could potentially damage your company’s reputation and revenue. This must include sudden crises such as fires and explosions, as well as smoldering crises such as sexual harassment or a social media post gone wrong.

Step 2 Write an effective crisis communications plan

This should not be just a checklist of standard operating procedures. It should be specific, sequential instructions for gathering information, confirming it with your crisis management team, then disseminating one message to all audiences. Those audiences must include the media, your employees, your customers, and your community. The plans I license to my clients have a provision that they must communicate to their audiences within one hour or less of the onset of the crisis. You can learn more details by signing up for the 5-part video series. You’ll also be given an option to download a PDF of a First Critical Statement that is perfect for every crisis.

Step 3 Have a library of pre-written news releases

Each of my clients receives a base set of 100 pre-written news releases with their crisis communications plan. Each news release is methodically written to have multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank options that allow the statement to be modified in about 10 minutes. The statements read less like a traditional news release and more like a well-written news story. This one statement goes to all audiences and stakeholders.

Step 4 Provide Media Training

In crisis communication media training, all of your potential spokespeople learn to deliver their statements by using the pre-written news releases in Step 3. They also learn the secrets to answering tough follow-up questions. A primary purpose of media training is to allow your spokespeople to make mistakes in private so that they do not make mistakes in public. In media training, it is also critical that each participant gets videotaped and evaluated multiple times during the day.

Step 5 Hold a Crisis Communication Drill

Like media training, the drill is designed to allow participants to make mistakes in private so that they do not make mistakes during a real crisis. A good crisis communications drill must have misdirection, injections of social media and mainstream media activities, plus at least two full-blown mock news conferences. Generally, the drills I conduct last about three hours, followed by a 90-minute evaluation. Team members can know the day of the drill and the time, but the drill scenario should be a secret.

The bottom line is that the traditional speed of communications from companies is far too slow in the age of social media. Many executives seem oblivious to the speed of social media, in part, because so many executives are not personally on social media. That must change if you want to protect your organization’s reputation and revenue in a crisis.

If you need to know more, please contact us. For a deeper dive, make sure you sign up for the free 5-part video series on the 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications.

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:

Please Pick Me to be Your Media Trainer

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

5 Steps to Keep a Situation from Becoming a Crisis at Your Next Meeting

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

As a meetings industry professional, you dread when you get pulled aside at an event, by a colleague who whispers, “We have a situation.”

You feel a rush of panic; an air of dread; a feeling of confusion.

How you deal with a “situation” today is different than how you would have addressed the same situation five to ten years ago. Why? Because your attendees are changing.

Highly sensitive attendees can turn a small situation into a big crisis. Meeting professionals are finding that often it happens when an attendee is critical of a single word, story, or example shared by one of those speakers you worked so hard to vet. If you read evaluations, chances are you are noticing that they are far more snarky and mean-spirited than in years past. Many speakers will tell you that it is not uncommon for their best tried-and-true stories, case studies, and hilarious punch lines to become criticized on social media during your event and often while the speaker is still on stage.

Think of it like this – ten years ago we were told that a happy customer tells three people and an angry customer tells 10-12 people. Today, an angry, dissatisfied attendee simply tweets their displeasure with the hashtag of #YourEvent and everyone knows about it. This triggers a situation.

Left unchecked, the situation smolders and has a real potential to reach a flash point. An ugly flashpoint can damage the reputation of the event and the sponsoring organization. That reputational damage is then converted into a negative revenue impact in the months and years that follow, such as if people decide not to attend the event or to renew their association membership.

Your situation can easily ignite into a financial crisis and a membership crisis.

What should you do?

Below we outline a formal 5-step process you should follow.

1) Start by conducting a Vulnerability Assessment.

This is where you identify all of the things that could damage your reputation and revenue. It ranges from the sudden things like a natural disaster or a mass casualty shooting, to those smoldering things such as sexual harassment, or an ugly social media post that goes viral.

In your assessment, you should examine the double-edged sword nature of social media. Every conference urges attendees to post comments to social media. But if you evaluated those posts, you would find an overwhelming number of participants posting or only a few who seek to be role models.

As most events transition to have their own event app, examine whether that app pays for itself or whether it expedites posts to social media that can do more harm than good.

2) Develop a Crisis Communications Plan.

This must be a thorough, step-by-step document that guides you through the process of gathering information about your situation, confirming it, then disseminating an appropriate statement to all who need to receive an explanation.

Built into those five steps would be a predetermined process. Strategically and relentlessly monitoring social media at an event needs to be a 24/7 job assigned to up to three people. Should your listening team detect a potential situation, a key component is to find the individuals at the heart of the situation. You have to privately and separately speak to the accused and the accuser. Time is of the essence. Your initial goal is to listen in-person so the “situation” doesn’t play out on social media. Engaging on social media can amplify and magnify the situation.

In some situations, a formal statement must be made from the main stage of the event, with a possible mass email going out to all attendees, and in the case of associations, an email to all members. These actions are covered in steps three, four, and five.

3) Write out Pre-Written Statements.

Prepare these statements now, that you would use if and when they are needed. Start with the most troublesome and likely issues identified in your Vulnerability Assessment. Your statements must use fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice options in order to remain timely. Because the speed of social media controls the initial narrative, these pre-written statements are three to six hours faster than if you tried to craft a perfect statement in the midst of your crisis and while still trying to run a successful event.

4)  Train your spokesperson.

Someone has to be prepared to read the pre-written statement to your audience and then respond to tough questions. Essentially, you need to go through the same type of  Media Training that corporate spokespeople go through. Many associations provide Media Training to their board members before the event.

5) Conduct a Crisis Communications Drill.

Test your team members, test your Crisis Communications Plan, test your Pre-Written Statements, and test your spokesperson.

Is all of this really necessary? Is it overkill? The answer lies in a simple mathematical formula in which you begin by calculating the financial damage one situation could cost your organization. Chances are the time and money you put into the five steps will be far less than the cost of letting a situation turn into a crisis.

 

 

 

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:

Please Pick Me to be Your Media Trainer

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

 

What Does a Crisis Communications Drill Need to Test?

press-conference-1166343_1920By Gerard Braud

Prepare for your crisis on a clear sunny day. Your darkest day is the worst day to deal with a crisis.

So, how do you do that? With a Crisis Communications Drill.

A Crisis Communications Drill can simulate realistic emotions and pressures in a controlled environment, where you can mess up in private, rather than messing up during a real crisis.

Your goal in every Crisis Communications Drill should be to test multiple aspects of the organization. These are the seven most important things I test in the drills for my clients:

1) Is there a properly written Crisis Communications Plan that is so thorough that it can be read during the drill, word-for-word, in real time? Does it ultimately result in flawless performance by the Crisis Communications Team?

2) Did that Crisis Communications Plan allow the organization to begin issuing news releases, postings to the web, texts, and e-mails to employees within one hour or less of the onset of the crisis?

3) Did executives within the organization slow down the communications process by excessively word-smithing news releases?

4) Did the Crisis Communications Plan have pre-written news releases that were pre-approved on a clear sunny day by the executive team, so they could be released quickly without re-writes?

5) Are their multiple spokespeople who are qualified to stand before my mock media and survive their questioning?

6) Did misguided egotists step out of their assigned roles and try to take over other people’s jobs? Did they withhold information that kept others from properly doing their jobs, thereby compromising the organization in its crisis response?

7) Did the drill create enough realistic drama and anxiety, to add a level of fear into all participating teams? Did it help them realize drills and media training must be treated like an athlete treats their sport? Did it help them understand that regular practice on a clear sunny day makes you your best on your worst day?

If your drill covers all of these bases, you are on your way towards effective crisis communications. You are not done, however, because crisis drills must be practiced multiple times throughout the year.

 

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:

3 Lessons the Melania Trump Coat Can Teach All Public Relations People

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

 

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Crisis Communications Best Practices: 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communication

By Gerard Braud Fail to plan Crisis Expert Gerard Braud Blog

Many crisis communication experts have one goal – they want YOU to have a crisis so that you call THEM to repair your reputation so that THEY make a lot of money.

That is such Bull$&*t.

But then again, that’s why I am a maverick and a contrarian when it comes to crisis communications. That’s also why I’m giving you The 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications.

With that said, let me DARE YOU. I dare you, within the next week… or even within the next 30 days, to take one step to examine your crisis communications strategy.

To get you started, I’m giving you a 5-part video series on The 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications. In it, you will learn actionable best practices in crisis communications.

Want to know what the catch is?

1) I want YOU to NOT have a crisis.

2) I want YOU to have the best crisis communication plan possible, so that you can recognize a potential crisis early, and either eliminate the crisis or prepare to respond to the crisis.

3) I want YOU to have your own toolkit that allows you to communicate quickly, so that you control the narrative, rather than having the narrative defined by rumors on social media.

Each video is only eight to ten minutes long, so you can quickly steal time each day to watch them five days in a row. I dare you to commit to watch all five. That means you will get 50 to 60 minutes of the content I share when I’m delivering keynote presentations to various associations around the world.

And the choice is yours – after each lesson you can ask me questions or you can watch all five and then schedule a call to ask questions.

And the choice is yours – you can take all five steps or you can take my dare to do just one.

And the choice is yours – you can be a do-it-yourselfer DIY style and use my lessons as your outline for success, or you can ask me about some of my turnkey options that will have you up and running in one to two days.

The choice is yours. I dare you to get started.