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COVID-19 Crisis Communications Award: The Lysol Case Study

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC 

We raise a glass and present our first ever COVID-19 Crisis Communications Award to the team at Lysol. After the president asked doctors at a news conference if products like Lysol could be consumed orally or as an injection, the Lysol team was fast to respond with this statement:

“Due to recent speculation and social media activity, RB (the makers of Lysol and Dettol) has been asked whether internal administration of disinfectants may be appropriate for investigation or use as a treatment for coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion, or any other route). As with all products, our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines. Please read the label and safety information.

We have a responsibility in providing consumers with access to accurate, up-to-date information as advised by leading public health experts. For this and other myth-busting facts, please visit Covid-19facts.com.”

What is your takeaway on this? Three things…

Takeaway #1

In the 5-Steps to Effective Crisis Communications, you are encouraged to conduct frequent Vulnerability Assessments. Based on the kinds of things the president may say on any given day at his coronavirus briefings, you need to add “Rumors & Speculation” to your vulnerability list as your first take-away.

Takeaway #2

You also need to prepare a pre-written news release for Rumors & Speculation.  Add this to your library of pre-written news releases.

Takeaway #3

You now need to designate a member of your team to watch the daily White House briefings because there is no telling when your brand or company might get mentioned in a positive or negative way.

As we discussed last week, you cannot focus all of your crisis efforts on just COVID-19. You must think COVID + X. For Lysol, it was COVID + Presidential Speculation.

What made the task of responding even harder is that in our politically divided country, people are either all Trump or never Trump. Lysol, had to walk on eggshells to avoid damage to their revenue, reputation, and brand by being forced to issue a crisis statement that attempted not to anger Trump supporters. (I’m having to walk on eggshells myself, just to write a blog about this.)

Lysol wins their award for dancing around the land mines while also being fast to respond.

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall at Lysol when this went down?

Be well and be prepared. We live in strange times.

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

COVID-19 Crisis Communications: How Much Worse Could It Get?

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC 

We’re all more than a month deep into various forms of crisis communications for COVID-19. So, how much worse could it get? Let’s talk frankly about that.

You are exhausted.

  • Zoom meetings
  • Strategy meetings
  • News releases
  • Employee communications
  • Social media
  • Schooling the kids with distance learning

Oh yea, and don’t forget the flood, the tornado, the hurricane, the chemical release, the fire, the explosion, and the power outage.

Wait, what?

“No!” you say. “I already have a crisis. I’m dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. That’s my crisis.”

Reality check. That’s one of your crises.

Amid the exhaustion around COVID-19, you must avoid the myopic belief that you have somehow been given permission to focus only on one crisis at a time. The hardcore truth is, you must be ready for more.

Are you ready for:

  • COVID-19 + Flood
  • COVID-19 + Tornado
  • COVID-19 + Hurricane
  • COVID-19 + Chemical Spill
  • COVID-19 + Fire and Explosion
  • COVID-19 + Power Outage

When you apply the 5-Steps to Effective Crisis Communications strategy, you see there is work that still must be done to prepare for a compound crisis.

You must multitask and keep your teams focused on the reality and the possibilities of “What else?”

  • Vulnerability assessments must be updated to account for new combinations of events that take social distancing into account.
  • Your crisis communications plan must be updated to handle multiple, simultaneous crises.
  • Your library of news releases must account for your current events with a COVID-19 twist, for example, if an evacuation is called, how is that accomplished in a COVID-19 environment.
  • Your media training must be updated to account for remote, online interviews.
  • Your crisis communications drills should account for how teams will coordinate activities when all or part of the team is working remotely.

As always, if you need help with any of your 5-Step process, reach out. You can use this link to schedule a free 15-minute call.

The reality is that COVID-19 may seem overwhelming. But don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that you can put everything else on the shelf until COVID-19 has passed.

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 Daniel Jerez on Unsplash

How to Do a Remote Media Interview: COVID-19 Media Training Tips

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC 

The number of remote media interviews, online interviews, Zoom interviews, and the like have skyrocketed in the past few weeks. In last week’s video, I asked you, who is doing them well? How is the quality of the videos?

Well, today I am providing you with expert media training strategies to help you look professional, organized, and credible as a source for your media interview.

If lighting, camera angles, technology, and wardrobe stress you out (and rightfully so), this video can help you be a video producer in your own home office or other remote location.

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

COVID-19 Crisis Communications Tips – Webinar Recording

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC 

Crisis experts Bill Coletti and Gerard Braud share their insights and top recommendations on “what’s next” and what to do in this very uncertain phase between shutting down and re-opening for business.

In addition to the webinar recording, please feel free to share the Slide deck with your colleagues.


Hopefully, the insights and recommendations shared will be helpful to you and your teams in this difficult time.  

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:

How to Use Social Media for Crisis Communications

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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


COVID 19 Crisis Communications Update: March 17, 2020

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC 

In crisis communication, the burden is shared between your leadership team and your communications team, to give clear directives to your employees, your customers, your stakeholders, and the media.

Nothing undermines the credibility of a leader during a crisis more than when their actions don’t match their words. 

Be congruent. Your actions must match your words.

For example, don’t call a news conference about the coronavirus to tell your audience that social distancing requires people to be six feet apart, when in fact, you are standing shoulder to shoulder with 10 people on the stage with you. That’s not being congruent. You are sending a mixed message and the cynics are going to call it out.

Don’t tell your audience not to shake hands, yet you shake hands. That’s not being congruent.

A perfect example of congruency can be seen in the media, where news anchors are distancing themselves within a news studio. That’s being congruent.

Leaders should be mindful of the proliferation of social media and cell phone cameras. As soon as you behave in a way that lacks congruency, someone will capture you in the act and publicize it. Don’t make your crisis worse by letting your bad actions overshadow your good message. Don’t create a secondary crisis because of your own bad behavior, poor judgment, or lack of congruency.

Leaders are often taught to catch their employees doing something right so praise can be given, rather than catching an employee doing something wrong so that criticism is given. As a leader, you need to lead in actions and in words. We want to catch you doing something right.

In times of crisis, people want to trust the leaders of their companies and their communities. A crisis, as we pointed out in yesterday’s blog, can really highlight who is a true leader and who is a fake leader.

Leadership is never based on one’s title; it’s based on one’s behavior.

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:

How to Use Social Media for Crisis Communications

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

Coronavirus Covid19 Crisis Communication Tip: It’s as Simple as A-B-C

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

While many companies and brands are responding and communicating about the coronavirus (Covid 19), other individuals are questioning whether coronavirus fears are being blown out of proportion.

The best crisis communications tip I can give you is as simple as A-B-C:

Always Be Communicating.

In the grand scheme, it doesn’t matter if you, personally think things are being blown out of proportion or not.

What matters is that you are managing the expectations of your employees, your customers, and your stakeholders.

Replace fear with facts.

And because things change on a daily basis, you must be prepared to communicate constantly. In other words – Always Be Communicating.

When you manage expectations, you manage, mitigate, or eliminate fear.

Here are a few things to communicate about:

  • What should employees do to remain safe?
  • What should customers do to remain safe?
  • Are any of your operations or services changing?
  • If everything is operating as normal, under what circumstances will change be enacted?
  • If changes are enacted, how will you continue to serve your audiences amid the changes?

You and your organization will be affected in some way. How severe the effect is can depend upon how effectively and how frequently you communicate.

Take your audience away from worry and take them to a place of informed decision-making.

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:

How to Use Social Media for Crisis Communications

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

Media Training for Mobile and Other Crisis Communications Tips

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

Media Training for Mobile is a new crisis communications and public relations specialty. It is the latest addition to our 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications series for the new year.

Quick recap – this is the fifth week of the new year. You have been challenged in the previous four crisis communication blogs to end the cycle of broken New Year’s resolutions, in favor of achieving consistency.

Media Training as a Bucket List

Media training is too often treated like a bucket list item that an executive does once in life. Our challenge to you is to conduct one thorough media training for your key spokespeople each year, along with a thorough practice training before every interview.

Today’s video goes deep into media training for mobile, as well as the use of crisis communications scripts for crisis events. Both of these techniques are great ways to improve and intensify any media training that you have done in the past.

I encourage you to watch the complete video, because it will go much deeper into the techniques than this blog will. Warning – it goes so deep that today’s BraudCast video runs about 12 minutes.

In the BraudCast, I share some media training and crisis communication tips that I don’t normally share with anyone except my clients.

Give Up Old Media Training Techniques

This episode of the BraudCast encourages you to give up the old, failed media training techniques of the past in favor of new techniques.

As more people transition from traditional media to news on their mobile devices, you need to recognize that how a spokesperson delivers a message greatly affects public perception and how a news story is edited.

When someone reads news on a mobile device, they primarily see a headline, followed by the lead sentence. Most people draw their conclusion from those two pieces of the news story. Likewise, most people seldom scroll to read anything else about the story, unless it directly affects them.

Therefore, your media training for mobile needs to focus on teaching the spokesperson to deliver a compelling preamble statement at the beginning of the interview, as a way to mimic a reporter’s lead. Your goal is to be so profound and natural in your wording of that preamble, that the reporter wants to capture the essence of it to write their lead.

Control the Lead; Control the Headline

When you control the lead, you then control the headline. That’s because the person writing the headline only reads the lead sentence, in order to gain the information they need to write the headline.

Can You Control the Edit?

When you control the lead, you control the headline, which means you control public perception.

…And More Control

By watching the BraudCast video, you’ll also learn that the way to eliminate bad adlibs during a crisis is to use a well-worded script that anticipates all of the questions you’ll be asked during a crisis news conference.

Bottom Line The bottom line is that media interviews are hard. The variety of ways people receive their news is expanding. This means you must expand your media training to stay up with the times. It’s one of our secrets 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:

How to Use Social Media for Crisis Communications

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

How to Write a Crisis Communications Plan Part 2

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

As we enter the third full week of January, we’ll look at how to write a crisis communications plan. If you’ve followed these articles and videos since the beginning of the year, you know that you are being challenged to abandon news year’s resolutions in favor of consistency in behavior, not just for this year, but throughout the life of your organization.

Think of crisis communications expertise as a five step process, called the 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications. Think of a crisis communications plan as number three of those five steps.

This week we look at the heart of your crisis communications plan. This is the written document that is the instruction book that one would follow to know exactly what to do, when to do it, to whom specific tasks are assigned, and how fast those tasks must be completed.

  • What to do.
  • When to do it.
  • Who does it.
  • How fast must it be done.

As for what to do, the crisis communications plan must outline how you gather information, confirm that information, and then disseminate that information.

  • Gather information.
  • Confirm information.
  • Disseminate information.

While those are the foundational elements, getting it perfect is difficult and time consuming. When writing my first plan, I put 9 months of work into the document. All these years later, that base document allows me to customize crisis communications plan for clients in five hours. But it was the outrageously hard to get the first plan written, so be patient. Forgive yourself on those days when you want to give up. Also, recognize that if you have other daily tasks to perform, finding the time will be a huge challenge.

Add two other goals to the process of writing your crisis communications plan. Aim to make the plan as thorough and detailed as possible, such that nothing falls through the cracks, yet make it so simple to follow that anyone who can read can execute it.

  • So thorough that nothing falls through the cracks.
  • So simple that anyone who can read can execute it.

Do not make the crisis communications plan simply a policy manual. Instead, make it a document that the lead communicator actually reads and follows in real time during a crisis. What does that mean?

Most crisis communications plans I’ve read are six page documents that say basic things such as, “Consider if you need to call a news conference.” Instead, list the conditions in which a news conference would be called, pre-determine multiple locations where it could be held, identify who your potential spokespeople will be, identify who will write the news release, outline the approval process, and outline the steps needed to prepare for the news conference.

  • News conference parameters.
  • Pre-determine locations.
  • Pre-determine potential spokespeople.
  • Pre-determine who will write the news release and press conference script.
  • Outline the approval process.
  • Outline the steps for a news conference rehearsal.

The fatal flaw with most crisis communications plans is that they are so vague, they require people in the organization to make too many decisions on the day of the crisis. This leads to arguments, debates, and delays.

The more specific your plan, the more terrific. For example, designate a timeline for completing each task. My plans state that a public statement needs to be released within one hour OR LESS, from the onset of the crisis going public. Most organizations take from three to four hours to release their first statement because 1) decisions have not been pre-made and 2) because news releases are not pre-written.

The secret to speedy communications involves relying on pre-written news releases. That is the third step in the five steps to effective crisis communications. We’ll tackle that next week.

In the meantime, take a look at your calendar and map out time for when you will tackle the task of writing your crisis communications plan. If you have questions, use this link to schedule a free 15-minute phone call with me to talk about your needs. If you wish to tackle this task on your own I’ll provide guidance and answer your questions. If you want me to carry the burden for you, in two days I can help you customize a plan and provide you with 100 pre-written news releases. The option is yours to decide which is best for you.

Which ever way you choose, make your crisis communications plan a priority. Aim to finish it in the first three months of the new 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:

How to Use Social Media for Crisis Communications

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

How to Get Crisis Communications Training on Your 2020 Calendar

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

December is filled with end of year meetings, budget reviews, and overall wrap up of your budget year. Not to mention your calendar is booked with office parties, gift-giving, and a to-do list the length of your arm.

That’s why January is the time to plan your crisis communications strategy for 2020. Before you just stroll in to the New Year and get back to the grind, let your C-suite, your executives, your public relations team, your communications staff know in DECEMBER that there will be crisis communication training and media training on the books EARLY in 2020. If you need help explaining this to your staff and team members, view this video:

Start by learning about the 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications. Now is the time to encourage your team that they can spread the project out into manageable tasks 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.

Once you make the commitment to more effective crisis communications, I’m here to help you achieve your goals and 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.

If you are the type to take the bull by the horns, and 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.

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:

How to Use Social Media for Crisis Communications

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

You’re Ruining Your Reputation on Social Media: Use 5 Basic Rules

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC 

The ability for the global community to post online comments in countless ways and forums makes the world even more frightening for those trying to manage their reputation. For the sake of discussion here, when I use the term social media, I’m talking about all postings to the internet that allow your reputation to be improved or destroyed, as well as the gadgets that make it all possible. There are

3 ways you can get hurt in the world of social media:

  1. When your public actions are photographed or video taped, then posted to the web
  2. When your reputation is attacked on social sites and blogs
  3. When you willingly participate in on-line discussions and do a poor job communicating

For example, there is a video posted to the web of a county commissioner being hounded by a television reporter. When asked after a public meeting to justify the delay in opening a new county juvenile justice center, the commissioner asks the reporter, “Elliot, do you know that Jesus loves you?” The commissioner then dodges every one of the reporter’s subsequent questions by trying to engage in a discussion about why the reporter should accept Jesus as his personal savior. Regardless of your religious beliefs, the answer is inappropriate because it is not germane to the news report, and by repeating a variation of it as the answer to every question, it only makes the official look more like he is guilty of hiding something.

Prior to the advent of social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook.com and YouTube.com, such buffoonery would have been seen once or twice on the local evening news, the commissioner would have become the butt of some brief local mockery and embarrassment, but within a few days it would all pass.

But in the age of social media, millions of people around the world are able to watch the video and laugh at its absurdity on a daily basis. Some will post a link to their own website, or forward a link via e-mails to friends. This is what viral and social media is all about. This video lives forever on the world wide web and so does the commissioner’s embarrassment, mockery and humiliation, as people perpetually forward the video to their network of real friends and online acquaintances.

Issues like this are one of the reasons you should consider Social Media Training. Social Media Training is a program I pioneered to teach communicators and executives the realities and how their reputations can be damaged by public actions that are either voluntarily, or involuntarily captured, and posted to the web.

Numerous reputations and careers have been destroyed because of what someone says in a presentation to what is perceived as a friendly group. Inevitably, an audience member records the speech or presentation, then either posts a portion of it to the web or gives it directly to the media.

Cloaked with an audience of perceived friends, speakers often “cross the line” by their comments, only to face humiliation, embarrassment, and in many cases a long list of apologies and even the loss of their jobs because they thought their comments were made in private and off the record. If you are hosting a social media training class, you may wish to combine it with a presentation skills class.

Social Media Training is also needed before communicators and executives voluntarily attempt to participate in online communities. This is true whether one is responding to a posting made by someone else, or whether you are the one posting to a personal or corporate blog for your organization.

For instance, I found a random blog entry one day as I prepared to teach a Social Media Seminar. The blog entry was from a top executive from General Motors. The blog entry, posted on an official GM site, featured a photo of the executive. The guy in the photo looked like he was delivering an angry rant on stage at a corporate meeting. His blog entry, likewise, took an angry, rant style with a tone that personified, “I know better than you.”

His comment was a reply to a blog posting critical of GM’s poor gasoline mileage in its SUV’s. Because of how the executive worded his rather pompous response, many more participants in the blog criticized his parsed words and reply, which reflected the official corporate line.

In short, the executive’s poor choice of words was like throwing gasoline on a small fire, turning it into a bigger fire. It didn’t need to be that way.

CEO’s and executives need to think carefully before they participate in social media and corporate communicators need to think carefully before asking or allowing executives to actively participate in social media.

There are a few basic things communicators and executives should consider in the world of social media:

1. Are you good with traditional media? If you are not good with traditional media, what makes you think you can handle social media?

2. How do you behave in public? Do you realize that every public moment of your life is potentially being photographed or recorded? Your public behavior, what you do and say, who you associate with, and where you are seen in public, can all be posted to the web for the entire world to see.

My 5 basic rules for social media:

1) Every rule of media training applies to social media. Every word and how those words are phrased will be carefully scrutinized.

2) Edit what you say constantly to avoid having your comments taken out of context.

3) The rule of ethics is to ask whether you behavior in private is the same as the way you would behave if people were watching you. Congruency of behavior is important.

4) Before jumping into an online blog type discussion, you need to be prepared to use key messages and making sure those key messages have been run through the cynic filter. Bloggers are cynical and brutal.

5) Sometimes the best response to a blog posting is to ask a question. Rather than attacking a blogger for their point of view, simply ask them to further explain their point of view. Sometimes a blogger will back down as they are unable to defend their position. Sometimes other bloggers will come to your rescue with responses that match your point of view.

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:

How to Use Social Media for Crisis Communications

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash