Posts

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

Crisis Communications, Black Lives Matter, and Corporate Policy

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

In this year of crisis upon crisis, many brands have been stumped and confused as to how to address the Black Lives Matter #BLM movement and the associated social justice issues.

The Black Lives Matter movement has created some communications challenges that are in some ways unique, but in other ways, can be addressed using the 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications.

Consider these steps for addressing #BLM, and any other social or political issue in the future. Keep in mind, these suggestions are not based on how significant the issue may be, but rather on techniques for effective crisis communications.

1. Any activist movement or protest could affect your company if you are called upon to comment.

In the case of Black Lives Matter, your company or brand may have been called upon to make a statement of support.

But before you decide if you’ll say something and what that might be on this or any other social issues, we must consider Step 1 of the 5 Steps to Effective Communications, which is based on your Vulnerability Assessment. (I encourage you to watch this week’s video, where I go into more details than I will go into in this blog.)

Your Vulnerability Assessment is designed to assess situations that could affect your organization’s revenue, reputation, and brand.

Commenting on any social issue, political issue, or political figure, can have a positive or a negative effect on your organization’s revenue, reputation and brand.

Black Lives Matter is unique because a brand statement of support pleased some, while angered others. Sometimes the words of support even angered members of the #BLM moment, if not done to their standards.

For example, unique to this situation, some brands that voiced support were criticized because their support was not accompanied by tangible action. Watch the video for tangible examples.

2. Your Vulnerability Assessment has the ability to identify a situation that can actually lead to corporate policy, which will also shape your future response and behavior.

You should have a frank discussion and establish policy about whether your brand does or does not comment on social issues, political issues, or candidates. If your brand’s position is that you never comment on such issues, when asked to do so, you need to have a statement ready that explains your corporate policy.

If you do speak in favor of an issue, policy or candidate, be ready for how it affects your brand. Home Depot reportedly has a policy not to comment or support, but reportedly their co-founder donates heavily to a presidential candidate, causing shoppers to go to Lowes if they don’t like the supported candidate.

Goya Foods is facing a boycott after its CEO praised the President at a White House Event.

3. Also, consider whether action by your brand is part of your corporate policy.

At the height of the #BLM protests, many protesters criticized brands that offered verbal support, asking, “So what are you going to do about it?”

Some organizations have taken the pro-active step of establishing various funds for various causes, such as social justice, women’s issues, LGBTQ issues, and more. Additionally, they establish committees of employees who have a say in how, when, and to whom the funds are given.

In conclusion, let me make two points. First, I’m not telling you which approach is best for your brand. That needs to be decided based on your Vulnerability Assessment. Secondly, throughout your career, you will face many watershed moments and face many significant issues. As a brand, you should never be surprised and you should always be prepared.

To have a confidential conversation or to schedule a Virtual Vulnerability Assessment, please use 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:

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

4 Crisis Communications Considerations About Current Events

By Gerard Braud

What do you think about the riots, protests, political unrest, all during the pandemic?

Before you verbalize your answer, think not just about your answer to the question, but also the impact your answer could have on the reputation and revenue of your business. This is especially true for those of you who are in businesses that involve face to face contact with customers. While it is true that society needs to have discussions about the important issues of the day, what degree of caution should you consider in voicing a strong opinion to a customer who strikes up a conversation with you? And, what should be the guidelines for you or your employees when you consider whether it is appropriate to strike up a conversation with a customer?

Years ago, I proposed a similar question, “What do you think of the protests going on in Baltimore?” The same crisis communications principles, and this same video interview recorded with a colleague rings true years later.

Anastasia Turchetta is a Registered Dental Hygienist and host of Hump Day Happenings, a video blog for the dental industry. Here is our conversation regarding how to handle talking about such crises in the workplace:

Small business owners, such as her dental clients are faced with two situations when top news breaks. Situation one is that a customer may initiate a discussion about the controversial issues of the day. Situation two is that the business owner or their employees initiate a discussion.

This raises four questions you must consider:

1) Is this the right time and place to talk about these important issues?

2) Could the conversation result in the customer getting angry and taking their business somewhere else?

3) Is that a risk you are willing to take?

4) What advice should be given to business owners and their employees?

If an event affects your reputation and revenue, a crisis exists, in some degree. If customers elect to buy goods or services from someone else because they feel slighted by your business, then you have an emerging crisis.

In the video blog, Anastasia reminds us of what many of us were taught by our parents, which is to never talk about religion and politics.

In addition to the decision you make about having controversial conversations with your customers in person, you must also think about the personal opinions a business owner and their employees post to social media. Be especially aware of those employees who have accepted friend requests from customers.

Each employer, whenever there are hot button issues in the news, should consider what they should say to their employees face to face, as well as on social media.

If you are passionate about the issues of the day, seek out the proper venue or community group to enact change. But consider carefully how your personal opinions and those of your employees will affect your livelihood, revenue, and business.

I personally know of many case studies in which entertainers, celebrities and business owners have been put out of business and lost all they owned because of how and where they voiced their opinions. Consider what price you are willing to pay.

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 Cooper Baumgartner on Unsplash