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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

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:

Crisis Communications – Customizable Keynote Speech “Silver Linings in Muddy Waters”

In this keynote presentation, I’m looking at how communications can change EVERYTHING. 

New Orleans suffered one of the worst disasters we have seen in this country, or even worldwide. Through my personal experiences with Hurricane Katrina, I am sharing some of the ramifications of when we only think about the sunny days of our businesses, companies, and organizations, versus preparing for our darkest days.

I’m examining the mindset of leaders who are in decision paralysis, denial, who are arrogant for thinking they can “wing it.” There are too many business leaders and political leaders who are not protecting themselves from disasters, who blame everyone else for failures. In this keynote, I describe how communications could have changed everything and how preparing could have saved lives.

Every crisis is a living classroom. We should never “waste” the opportunity to study what went right and what went wrong, but more importantly, how to do our best in the future.

Always remember, for every tragedy, there is a heart, soul, and spirit that needs recovery. As a business leader, you are responsible for getting your team, clients, and stakeholders there. There is a silver lining in muddy waters. There are both smiles and tears. For more on that, watch the video.

To set goals and talk about your needs for effective crisis communications, 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

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Crisis Communications and the Volatile Customer on Social Media

We don’t often associate customer service with crisis communications. However, in the age of social media, a single unhappy customer can quickly damage a brand’s revenue and reputation.

Over the years in this blog, we have reviewed countless case studies of how customers on social media have leveled serious allegations against companies. Cancel culture is the latest variation of what we’ve long called “The Volatile Customer.”

Social media gives unhappy customers a platform to becoming more volatile in their criticism of your brand. Volatile doesn’t need to imply physical harm, because words and complaints and truths going viral can fan the flames of volatility. A great brand treats an upset customer with care before they reach the point of lashing out on social media. Good customer service turns your volatile customer into a brand ambassador. You want brand ambassadors.

A single, angry “volatile” Tweet or post on Facebook can go viral, creating the opportunity for more and more people see the post and chime in. They relate to the post. They share their own, bad, customer service experience with the brand. Soon, the conversation explodes. The criticism can’t be silenced.

In the world of crisis communications, some people will push this off as issues management. Others say it falls into customer service. Some think the social media team should handle this.

We suggest you treat every dissatisfied customer as a potentially volatile customer who can convert an unhappy customer experience into a monumental crisis. Your organization needs to have a team ready to handle this sort of situation. A proper crisis communications plan can be your guide in managing the expectations of your audience.

We’re putting this topic front and center in the coming years, because a volatile customer can do unlimited damage to revenue, reputation and brand. That’s why we’ve launched our newest keynote, “The Volatile Customer.”

If your team generally focuses on sales and customer service, they need to be aware that Cancel Culture is just one bad customer experience away.

To schedule a complimentary, confidential call with me to discuss your organization’s vulnerabilities to volatile customers on social media visit 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

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Ready or Reactionary? The SituationHub Master Class on Crisis Communications

How do you stack up?

PR News and CS&A International asked companies a simple question: Do you have a crisis management plan? Nearly 60 percent said they had a plan, yet only half of those plans were up-to-date. This means 70% of organizations are really just flying by the seat of their pants when a crisis strikes.

Why is this? We look behind the numbers and offer you fast, affordable solutions in this Master Class for Crisis Communications.

Your free access has been paid for by the team at SituationHub.com (SituationHub is the crisis communications app that can automatically write your crisis news release in as few as 3 minutes). Watch the recording here.

We’ll tackle this topic in 3 parts:

First, we’ll look at some surprising results from a survey on crisis communications. The survey was done by PR News and CS&A International.

Second, we’ll look behind the numbers and talk with the woman who conducted the survey, crisis expert Caroline Sapriel.

Third, we’ll give you a roadmap of best practices and challenge you to take at least one step toward preparedness.

When it comes to Ready or Reaction, see how your organization compares to others.

Then, set some goals to be one step closer to readiness.

As a bonus, schedule a confidential call to privately discuss your social media and crisis communications challenges by using  this link https://calendly.com/braud/15min

‘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

Crisis Management Lessons from Hurricane Katrina vs. COVID19

They may sound totally different, but there are so many similarities in the ways that people deal with crises. There are so many crisis communications lessons we can learn from crises of the past, and present, to prepare for our future. Watch this video to learn to prepare for your crisis, to protect your reputation, revenue, and brand.

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/

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

“Covid-19 Death Toll is Like 5 Boeing 737 Max 8 Jets Crashing Every Day:” Crisis Communications Tips to Land Analogies

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

Crisis communications surrounding Covid-19 has been difficult. Why is it that you can put a medical expert in front of the media and they have difficulty landing your crisis communications message?

From a communications standpoint, it comes down to: 

  • facts
  • passion
  • outrage, and 
  • fear.

Before reading this blog further, watch the INTRO to the video which describes the disclaimer, my personal bias, and my personal goal for putting out this message:

Now, imagine if a medical expert got on television and made the impassioned plea below: (Note, the entire plea is demonstrated in today’s video for training purposes.)

“The daily death toll from Covid-19 in the United States is like five Boeing 737 Max 8 jets crashing every day and killing everyone on board.

Think about this. Governments around the world were outraged that 346 people died in two crashes of 737 Max 8 jets. Governments and airlines banned the planes from flying because 346 people died.

Yet here we are, in the middle of a pandemic, and there is no outrage when the number of people who die each day in the United States is equal to five jets crashing each day. 

The number of people who have died since the onset of the pandemic in the United States in March is equal to 750 jets crashing and killing everyone on board.

As a country, would we sit idly by if five jets crashed every day? 

As a country, would we be outraged if 750 jets fell out of the sky and killed 150,000 U.S. Citizens?

We would not stand for it.

If terrorists shot down five jets every day in the United States and killed 1,000 people, would we not declare war?

If terrorists killed 150,000 U.S. Citizens over five months, would we not mobilize every bit of energy we have as a united nation to stop them from taking one more life?

So then why is it that we are okay with letting 1,000 U.S. Citizens die every day from a disease that we can fight and stop?

So then why is it that we are okay with letting 150,000 U.S. Citizens die in five months from a disease that we can fight and stop?”  

©2020 Diversified Media, LLC

(…and scene.)

(Footnote: An Axios poll release while I am writing this says 30% of Americans believe the numbers I just used from the CDC are inflated.)

The opposing viewpoint has been effectively using the analogy that says:

“Covid-19 deaths are no different than the deaths we see every year from the common flu.”

The second analogy about the flu has stuck with about one-third of Americans, according to polls.

Here are three reasons why one side has been more successful in messaging:

  1. Medical experts are trying to sell scientific facts.
  2. Medical experts are failing to sell compelling fear or outrage.
  3. and #3 … and this is a big one… those with opposing views have done a better job of getting out front with their own analogies first.

And I’ll add this point to number 3 — Those who have been selling their analogies better, have sold them as a dismissive message to an audience that is usually motivated by fear. In other words, people who are normally motivated and inspired by fear are being told, “You have nothing to fear.”

— Now before you start wondering if this blog is motivated by my politics, the answer is no. For more than 25 years I’ve worked to share crisis communications strategies with you and this is just one more lesson.

It should be noted, that in most crises, there are not two opposing arguments. For example, when a jet crashes and kills all 200 people on board, the President, members of Congress, Governors, and elected officials are not standing in front of the media saying,

“It’s just one jet. More people die every day from the flu than died in that airplane crash.”

So no, this is not a blog that takes sides on the issue because of politics. It is a blog about how to be effective in your crisis communications.

Where did my airplane crash analogy come from? Recently on a television news program, a doctor was trying to use the analogy, but he failed to land the analogy. The doctor failed because his delivery of the analogy lacked passion, fear, and outrage.

So here are the realities as I write this on July 26, 2020:

  • Many passenger jets carry 200 people.
  • The 737 Max 8 was pulled from service after two crashes killed 346 people.
  • Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. at this point have reached daily death tolls of 1,000 people.

In conclusion:

  • Analogies are a great way to communicate.
  • Analogies that tap into fear and outrage can be more effective.
  • If you use analogies, you must sell the message with passion and outrage.
  • When your analogy is compelling, others will use it.

We’ve watched the viral spread of the analogy that Covid-19 deaths are no different than the flu. Let’s watch to see if the analogy about the airline crash takes off.

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