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Write and Complete a World-Class Crisis Communications Plan in the Two Most Intense and Productive Two Days of Your Career

Join Global Crisis Communications Expert Gerard Braud in Denver, CO

October 29 & 30, 2012

Save Time – Save Money – Save Lives

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You need a Crisis Communications Plan, but you don’t have time to write one on your own or you know you don’t have the expertise to do it correctly. You need a Crisis Communication Plan, but every price you’ve gotten from an agency is expensive and outside of your budget.

You need help. We have the solution.

Only Gerard Braud offers this intense 2-day program that generates his exclusive, world renowned Crisis Communications Plan, used around the world by corporations, non-profits and government agencies.

You bring your team of writers and Gerard Braud will provide you with the most amazingly designed communication documents. You and your team of writers will customize your plan under his personal supervision.

You’ll leave the workshop not with theory, but with a finished document.

You could struggle on your own and after a year of work never create a Crisis Communications Plan that is this well thought out and perfect for every crisis.

You could hire an agency and spend more than $100,000 and not achieve the same level of success.

Your cost to attend this amazing workshop is just $7,995 per company/organization.

For one corporate price, you are invited to bring up to 6 writers to participate in the 2-day process of customizing your company’s new plan.

This isn’t touchy-feely collaboration. This is you and your team locked in a room for 2 days getting real work done without distractions.

This is going from your “to-do list” to your “done list.”

This is going from “I wish we had” to “we did it.”

Size & Price Matter

Many organizations spend 6 months and $25,000 to $100,000 to create a six page plan that will fail them every time, which is the document on the left side of this photo. In just 2 days we create the document you see on the right. It is 3 inches thick and full of everything you need to do and say in a crisis.

Register before Monday, October 15, 2012 and receive an immediate $500 discount.

Earn an additional $500 discount for each additional company that you recruit to join us for the 2-day workshop.

For registration details, call Gerard Braud at 985-624-9976.

Can’t Make These Dates?

Call us to discuss your options.

About Your Instructor

Known as the guy to call when “it” hits the fan, Gerard Braud (Jared Bro) is an expert in crisis communications and media issues. He is an international trainer, author and speaker, who has revolutionized crisis communications for organizations on five continents.

Versed in the daily struggles of corporations, non-profits and government agencies, Gerard developed this exclusive 2-day workshop as a remedy to cries of “we don’t have time to do it on our own” and “we can’t afford to hire an agency.”

Only Gerard Braud bridges the gap by offering an affordable alternative in a time frame that fits everyone’s schedule and budget.

What’s his secret? As a senior communicator with more than 30 years experience as a journalist and a corporate communicator, Gerard has been on the front line of crises his entire career. He has invested more than 1,500 hours of time into capturing the most perfect behaviors any communicator could dream of… and he’s put it into a sequential plan. It is a plan so thorough that nothing is left out, yet a plan so perfectly organized that it can be successfully executed by anyone who can read, regardless of their job title or communication experience.

What You Need to Bring

  • A laptop for each writer
  • 6 of your best writers
  • Specific documents you will be asked to prepare in advance.

For full details and answers to all of your questions, call 985-624-9976 or email gerard@braudcommunications.com

The Fine Print: Each Crisis Communications Plan is the intellectual property of Diversified Media, LLC, dba Gerard Braud Communications. As such, your organization is technically purchasing a license to use the plan. Your organization is granted rights to use the plan, but it remains the copyright product of Gerard Braud Communications. As such, you are prohibited from ever sharing your plan with anyone who is not an employee of your organization.

Media Training Tip: What to do Before the End of the World

The Mayan calendar ends in December 2012 and many have wondered if this signals the end of the world. One colleague jokingly asked me if her company could forgo Media Training and writing a Crisis Communications Plan in 2012, because the world may end. She has been putting off these tasks for two years. Each quarter she reminds me it is still on her to-do list, but that she neither has the time nor budget. I laugh and remind her that her company spends more time and money preparing for their company picnic than they would spend writing their Crisis Communications Plan.communications planning photo

So I asked, “If the world were to end in 2012, do you think your company might face a series of cascading crises leading up to the end of the world?”

I’m not proclaiming the end is here, yet I’m not saying it might not happen. So I asked, “If we are headed to a gradual end rather than a single catastrophic day, might your company experience an earthquake in February, an explosion in March, civil unrest in April, financial troubles in May and so on?”

The colleague responded with a look of doom and said, “Hum, I haven’t thought of that.”

The fact is, whether you believe the end is coming or a series of events may happen leading up to the end, or whether you just use common sense, the reality is you are always better to be safe than sorry. If you fail to plan, then plan to fail. Just look at my 2011 Top 10 List of Mishandled Crises and you’ll see that most of these could happen to any organization. The list proves how unprepared big name organizations are when it comes to a crisis. It also proves how quickly millions of dollars can be lost in a single, poorly handled crisis. Reputations and careers can vanish quickly in a crisis.

As a supporter of always being opportunistic, I suggested to the colleague that she use “the end of the world” premise as a reason to revisit the plea with her boss to make 2012 the year they finally write a Crisis Communications Plan and put their executive team through comprehensive Media Training. Plus, I suggested starting the year with a good comprehensive writing retreat for her entire communications staff, so they can begin the calendar year with a great library of key messages to use in both good times and in bad.

If you are thinking about making 2012 a great year, here are the programs I’d suggest.

Kick-Butt Key Message – A one day writing retreat for your entire communications team. I’ll teach you my exclusive Key Message Tree writing system. I promise it will change the way you write forever.

Media Training – I always suggest a strong one-day course for starters. For best results, I suggest a maximum class size of four people, which allows each person time for three strong rounds of on-camera role playing. If you have a large team of potential spokespeople, plan on adding an extra day or two.

Executive Team Vulnerability Assessment – A well facilitated 3 hour Vulnerability Assessment will usually scare the pants off of everyone in the room. They’ll quickly see how prone to a crisis your organization is and how a well written Crisis Communications Plan will be their ticket to surviving a crisis. Gather your entire leadership team together for a life changing day.

Crisis Communications Plan – In just 2 days you can have an entire Crisis Communications Plan written. My exclusive system lets you use the strength of your team to accomplish a year’s worth of work in 2 days. And there are 3 pricing options, so one is bound to fit your budget. All 3 pricing options cost less than the company picnic!

Crisis Communications Drill – Every Crisis Communications Plan needs to be tested at least once a year. An intense 4-hour drill, followed by an honest evaluation after the drill, moves you and your executives one step closer to being ready to tackle a real crisis. And remember, the presence of Social Media in your Crisis Drill makes it more realistic and complicated.

If discussing these options will benefit you, just give me a call at 985-624-9976. Managing a crisis is no picnic and preparing to deal with a crisis costs far less than any company picnic.

Media Training Tip: Don’t Leave The Audience Thinking “What Does That Mean?”

What bugs the ever living daylights out of me is hearing people speak in mumble jumble that they think means something, but it means nothing at all. This mumble jumble is corporate speak, buzzwords, jargon and government acronyms.media training gerard braud

I’m fortunate enough that people pay me an honorarium to speak at numerous conferences, corporate meetings and association meetings every month. I always make a point of listening to what other speakers say so I can incorporate their lessons into my presentation.

But many of the speakers fill their presentations with so many buzz words, jargon and mumble jumble that I find myself sitting in the audience asking, “What does that mean?” The speaker thinks they have said something profound, but they’ve really said nothing at all.

I hear things such as, “If we work in a customer centric capacity to increase productivity and to create a win-win situation for our partners in a collaborative fashion, then we can achieve our goals for the betterment of our strategic partners in the hopes of benefiting those with whom we do business?

What does that mean?

Were you trying to say put customers first?

What is a win-win situation? (With all due respects to Steven Covey…)

What are examples of collaboration?

What are the goals?

Who are the strategic partners?

Please, spell it out. Please give me meaningful examples. Please give me tangible examples. Please give me anecdotes. Please communicate with real words. Please put some emotion into your communications. Please make the communications more visual by describing who and what you are talking about.

Would those words work at career day with a 6th grade class? A friend of mine uses this test: If you said it to your grandparents at Thanksgiving dinner, would they know what you mean?

Let’s touch on one other important point that I find in the politically correct world, especially among non-profit organizations. There is a propensity to say things in a way that will not offend the people that you serve. However, in the process of crafting your statement with sensitivity, you become so ambiguous that no one really knows what you are talking about, including… and sometimes most importantly, even the people they are trying to help. That’s right — the people you are trying to help don’t know what you mean, because the organization is being so sensitive and so politically correct.

If you keep changing the labels and the terminology out of sensitivity, the audience, the reporter and the people you serve will be left asking, “What does that mean?” This could lead to you accusing the reporter of taking you out of context and it affects your bottom line when you use terms that your audience cannot understand because of the politically correct ambiguity.

Consultants and trainers are also guilty of trying to coin clever phrases. A few years ago my wife, who works at a small private school, mailed out the class schedule for the fall semester. Her phone started ringing off the hook because after years of promoting the school’s top notch computer lab, computer classes were no longer listed on the class schedule. She told concerned parents she would check it out and get back to them. As it turns out, someone on the school staff had taken the term computer class off of the schedule and replaced it with the term “information literacy.” Yes, it seems someone had gone to a summer workshop in which the trainer/consultant preached that “it’s so much more than just knowing the mechanics of a computer, the internet and the programs – It’s really about ‘information literacy.’” What does that mean? It’s a dumb term. Call it what it is. It’s computer class.

If you’d like more examples from my “What Does that Mean?” file I have a great PDF that I’d be happy to share with you so you can share with the offenders. It is available as a download at www.braudcasting.com

Call or email me to talk about your media training and crisis communications training needs:

Direct: 985-624-9976

Email: Gerard@BraudCommunications.com

So… The new International Media Training No-No

Media Training - Gerard Braud - Braud CommunicationsSoooooo…. I’ve noticed a new trend. Soooooo…. it appears people think every sentence needs to start with “Soooooo….” Soooooo…. stop it already!

I first noticed this alarming trend while teaching media training to a global defense contractor in Los Angeles in 2010. One engineer — a lead engineer –started every sentence with “Soooooo….” It was driving me nuts and I worked with him to eliminate it.

When I came back to Los Angeles for their annual media training class one year later, “soooooo….” had spread like an epidemic. Much like corporate jargon spreads like a virus, so had soooooo…  In the 2011 refresher course,  nearly every engineer was saying soooooo…. as the open to every sentence.

Normal people don’t talk like that. But it is spreading, not like any ordinary virus, but like a global pandemic. I was teaching media training in Europe recently and a petroleum engineer with a major oil company had the same bad habit. During our media training role playing on camera, she began every answer with “Soooooo….”

As best as I can tell, this bad habit is rooted among engineers and IT (information technology) employees. If you hear it, please try to put a stop to it. Otherwise the pandemic will infect every conversation and media interview in the future.

Media Coach Training Tip: Fight for your Reputation! How to Respond to Negative Media Attention

I find it unbelievable that in the 21st century we still find executives who don’t want to take on a reporter or news outlet that has wrongly damaged their reputation.

The traditional way of responding to a media outlet that makes a factual error is to ask the management for a retraction. But sometimes the issue is not always factual but a difference in your point of view. If a newspaper does a hatchet job on you, the correct way to respond is to always write a letter to the editor. The letter should be short and to the point, with about 200-400 words. In some cases, you may want to ask 3rd party supporters to also write short letters on your behalf.

Yet, I still find executives who say, “We’re not going to respond. Just let it die. You can’t get in a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” That statement was wrong 50 years ago and it is even more wrong today.

In the past, a negative story may have run on TV or radio once or twice for 60-90 seconds, and then it was gone. In the past, a negative story appeared in the newspaper for just one day, and then the paper was thrown out, never to be seen again.Braud Communications Training web photo

But the internet has changed all of that. Today, those negative stories live on in archives on the internet forever. Additionally, media websites are among the highest ranked websites on the internet because their information is deep, the site is constantly updated, and it is perceived by search engines as highly credible. The media sites are so highly ranked that if your organization or name is mentioned in a news report, the media website could come up as a higher ranked site on the internet than your own site.

What this means is that if I do an internet search for your name, or that of your organization, I may see and read the negative things written about you on a media website before I read the positive stuff about you on your own web site.

So what do you do?

Well, just as always, if it is a newspaper that has damaged your reputation, you should write a letter to the editor as I’ve outlined above. That letter to the editor now becomes part of the online archive linked to the story. That way, in the future, when people stumble across the story they will immediately find your point of view as well.

In the case of radio and TV, you should place your comments on the media outlet’s blog on their website. Please be aware that other web users and opponents may verbally attack you and your comments once they are on the media outlet’s blog. You need to be ready to clearly state your case.

Additionally, you may wish to place a response on your own website and blog. Blogs are highly valued by search engines and will help counter the negative comments from the original story.

Finally, don’t take it personally. Your response is as important as a business decision. Hire professional PR writers to help if necessary. They will take the issue less personally and likely choose better words that may temper any anger you are feeling.

Media Coach Training Tip: Control the Interview Questions with Leading Answers

I want you to think for a moment about the last interview you did with a reporter. The reporter asks you a question then you start talking. Think very carefully now – what were you wondering the entire time you were answering the question?

In most cases, my media training students will confess that the entire time they were talking, they were thinking, “I wonder what the reporter is going to ask me next.”

Well here’s a little confession – Most of the time while I was a reporter, the entire time people were answering my question I was wondering what I was going to ask them next.

This means that in most interviews, both people are distracted, wondering what the next question will be and therefore neither is really concentrating on what the current answer is.

Therein lies the biggest problem in most interviews and therefore the greatest opportunity.

Gerard Braud media trainingHere is what you need to know about reporters to fully understand how the interview will go down. In most cases, the reporter has no written, prepared questions before the interview. And chances are the reporter has not done an extensive amount of advanced research.

If you are dealing with an investigative reporter or a television network news magazine, you can expect the reporter has done more research and has some specific questions to ask. But in your average interview for your average story I would estimate that 80-90% of the time, the reporter is going to make up the questions on the spot when the interview begins.

The interview will start with “soft” questions, designed to help you relax and get into your comfort zone. As the interview progresses, the questions will become more direct and possibly more negative.

But here is the big secret – How you answer the current question will dictate what the next question is. Even more specifically, the words you use at the end of your answer will often be used by the reporter to craft the next question.

In other words, the reporter will mirror your language right back to you in a form of a question. For example, if my final words are, “…the challenges we’ll face next year will eclipse the challenges we face this year…” what do you think the next question will be?  The reporter will ask, “What are the challenges you expect to face next year?”

To test this theory, watch a TV news anchor talking to the reporter who is live on the scene of an event. The anchor will ask a question and the reporter will repeat part of the question back to the anchor as part of their answer.

Mary the Anchor: “Bob, it sure looks like a disaster zone out there…”

Bob the Reporter: “It sure is a disaster zone out here Mary…”

I’ve developed a system for crafting answers that foreshadows the things that I want to talk about in an interview, followed by a “cliff hanger” or a sentence that creates some suspense. The trick is to always stop short of giving all of the details about something and to make the reporter want to know more. You want to make the reporter ask you a logical follow up question.

Observe news anchors tossing questions to reporters on live locations and in your next interview try to create a few “cliff hangers” that will make the reporter ask you the logical follow up question that you want.

This technique makes life easy for the reporter because they never have to think very hard about their next question. You, therefore, are controlling the interview and the questions. The reporter is just following along.

Media Training Coach Tip: The Top 4 Reasons Media are Considered Biased

There is much debate about whether the media are biased; especially whether there is a liberal bias. If you truly want to explore that subject, I suggest you read the book Bias by Bernard Goldberg. (http://www.amazon.com/Bias-Insider-Exposes-Media-Distort/dp/0895261901)

It has been my experience over the years that much of what is perceived as bias is really the result of the following:Gerard Braud media biased

• Editors send reporters out of the door armed with only partial facts or rumors

• The reporters and editors have misconceptions or misperceptions about you or your issues

• A competitor or opponent of yours has approached the media and only told them half of the story

• Ignorance by the reporter

All four of the above result in the reporter calling you, asking for an interview, asking you negative questions, and putting you in a defensive posture.

Let’s break it down.

Partial facts are usually the result of rumors and innuendos. We all share rumors every day. “Hey, you know what I heard today…?”  In the newsroom, a reporter or editor turns that rumor into a research project and must confirm or refute it. “Hey Gerard, I heard a rumor today that… Why don’t you go check it out?”

That rumor would become my assignment for the day. If there is a rumor that the mayor is on cocaine, then I try to prove that the mayor is using cocaine. If he is, it is a story. If he isn’t, then there is no story.  If the rumor is that the married congressman has a girlfriend, then I try to prove the congressman has a girlfriend. If it is true, I have a story. If I can’t prove it, then there is no story.

You may not like it, but it is the nature of the business.

The next issue is very similar; it’s the impact of a misconception or misperceptions. Often this is purely subjective. Perhaps you are proposing a new development, but something just seems shady. Then the news report may likely reflect a tone of skepticism. The reporter may even seek out a 3rd party who is willing to cast further doubt on your project or credibility.

On the issue of opponents – I’ve watched many opponents make compelling cases and provide an enormous amount of supporting material and a hefty helping of innuendo. In the U.S. they’re often called “opposition groups” while around the world they are called “NGOs,” which stands for non-government organizations.

Usually the members of these groups are very passionate about a specific issue and those issues may be considered liberal issues. If a member of one of these groups makes a compelling case to a reporter, they could trigger a news report about you or your company. The reporter may come armed with reams of documentation supplied by the opponent, placing you in a defensive position. The resulting story could portray you in a very negative light.

And the final issue is ignorance by the reporter. Sometimes reporters just get the wrong idea about something and pursue it as a negative story. For example, most reporters look at steam belching from an industrial facility and think they are seeing pollution. Hence, they may do a story about industry polluting and fill the report with images of the stack belching what looks like smoke.

When you are faced with a situation like this, you need to explain everything to them in simple terms the way you would explain it to a 6th grade class at career day.

Chances are the media are not “out to get you.” But somebody else may be out to get you and they are letting the media do their dirty work.

Media Training Coach Tip: The #1 Technique to Shut Down Reporter Speculation

As a media training speaker and media training coach, my clients can sometimes find themselves asking, “What’s the worst that could happen? How much worse could it get? But what if…?”Braud Communications media training tip

Oh, those great “what if” questions – reporters love those.  Why?  Well, reporters love a great story and sometimes the story doesn’t materialize the way they hoped it would.

Such questions indicate that the reporter is as disappointed as a 4-year-old who was hoping you would stop to buy them ice cream, but you didn’t.  Beware of reporters who ask you to speculate, because you are heading into very dangerous territory. If you do speculate, you’ve made the story bigger than what it is.

The most important phrase you can use when addressing such questions is to say, “I couldn’t speculate on that, but what I can tell you is…”  Another variation of that answer is to say, “It would be inappropriate for me to speculate on that, but what I can tell you is…”

In my media training work, I often recommend that when you’re asked to speculate, apply the Block, Bridge and Hook Technique:

  • Block: “It would be inappropriate for me to speculate…”
  • Bridge: “But what I can tell you is…”
  • Hook: Redirect the reporter back to one of your key messages and one of the facts that you have previously confirmed.

Ideally, you should create an additional hook that keeps the reporter from asking another speculative question as a follow up. But the most important thing that you are doing is immediately putting an end to the speculation and sticking to the facts.

Use the Block, Bridge and Hook Technique when a reporter asks you to speak for someone else.  The block response should be, “I can’t speak for them, but what I can tell you is…”

One more media training lesson we should address here is how to handle the reporter that misstates certain key facts in their question.  It has been my experience that most spokespeople try to gingerly work their way back to a key message and then correct facts without ever clearly telling the reporter they are wrong. Well my friends, that seldom works.

If a reporter misstates a fact in their question you have permission to stop them dead in their tracks if necessary and say, “I’m sorry, but you misstated a key fact in your question.” At that time you should give them the correct fact. Another variation is to use the phrase, “I can’t agree with the premise of your questions.”

Over the years many spokespeople have confessed to me that they are afraid that such an approach could be perceived by the reporter as hostile. I personally think you can do it without being hostile.

In fact, I have found that the dynamics of the interview or news conference will change in your favor because the reporter sees that you are in charge and that you are holding them accountable. The reporter will not only choose their words more carefully in the remainder of the interview, but they will also choose their words more carefully when writing their script.

Final media training tip: In the end, you must realize that YOU are in charge of the interview. Don’t relinquish control to the reporter. Tell your story your way and you win!

Media Training of the Future for Your Emergency Operations Center, Emergency Manager, and Public Information Officer

How to Improve Your Crisis Communication During a Disaster

It was a surprise to many Emergency Managers and Public Information Officers. After being in demand for telephone interviews during Tropical Storm Lee on September 3-5, 2011 near New Orleans, The Weather Channel opted to start taking live reports from a resident on the front porch of his home on Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, LA. In some instances, the live reports from this citizen were more compelling and ran higher in the broadcast than The Weather Channel’s own reporter in New Orleans.

That resident is Gerard Braud (Jared Bro). Yes, I’m that Gerard Braud — a former storm chaser and television reporter turned media trainer and crisis communications trainer.

So how and why did the Weather Channel select me. Well, I knew I was seeing something more compelling than anyone else was offering to the network and my journalistic instincts kicked in. I could show images of waves crashing out of Lake Pontchartrain, flooding streets and yards.

I was also able to use the newest technology to bring viewers across the nation directly into the rising floodwaters, while Emergency Managers and Public Information Offices were locked inside Emergency Operations Centers using old technology, otherwise known as the telephone.Braud Communications Plan Flood

Every Emergency Manger and Public Information Officer needs to recognize times are changing and they must change with those times. They must adopt a combination of new Media Training techniques that also teach how to use new technology such as iPhones, iPads and Skype software, in order to report live on the scene for the media.

If you would like to learn more, please download this article that explains how Emergency Managers, Emergency Operations Centers and Public Information Officers can master this new technology as part of their Crisis Communications Plan.

Don’t Repeat the Negative – Media Training Expert Tips

You would think that in 2010, spokespeople would be smart enough not to repeat a negative phrase as part of an interview or as a phrase in an advertising campaign. Surprisingly, it still goes on.

This month, the country of Colombia has launched a new tourism campaign. So what do you think of when you think of Columbia? Do you think about the risk of cocaine drug lords, the risk of hostage taking and killings? Do you think about how you might be risking your life if you travel there?

The new Colombian tourism ads use the word “risk.” It’s a nice try at a play on words, but someone should fire the agency that agreed to write and produce these spots.

The commercials are beautiful and enticing on their own. But as soon as you hear the phrase “risk,” it makes you remember the danger, and causes you to second guess any notion of falling in love with the enticing images of the commercial.

This latest example comes on the heels of Christine O’Donnell’s failed run for the U.S. Senate from Delaware. After announcing on cable TV that she dabbled in witchcraft, she tried to defend her candidacy by repeating the phrase, “I’m not a witch” in countless interviews and even used it as the opening phrase in her TV commercials. Dumb, dumb, dumb. If you do a Google search for “I’m not a witch,” O’Donnell comes up several million times.

The rule is, you never repeat a negative word or phrase. As you prepare for your next interview or media training class, purge your answers of the negatives and learn how to answer questions without adding negative phrases.

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