To learn more about the 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications, click here. You will receive five 10-minute videos that go more in-depth on each of the five steps.
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…”
https://braudcommunications.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/press-conference-1166343_1920-1.jpg12801920gbraudhttps://braudcommunications.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Logo-white-01-300x138.pnggbraud2019-03-13 18:00:302021-05-18 23:04:26The PIO and the Right to Know: 2nd Annual Communications Summit
On the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina devastating New Orleans, and coastal Louisiana and Mississippi, I’m reflecting on the old adage that says, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results.”
New Orleans can easily flood from another hurricane. I wrote about that in yesterday’s blog. Experts admit that the new fortified levee system is not high enough to keep tidal surge from topping the levees.
There are three areas where I see the potential for the insanity of prior sins and mistakes to be repeated.
1) The first sin is allowing people in low lying areas, in coastal regions, and in flood planes anywhere in America, to build a house on a foundation that is not elevated above recognized flood levels. Whether in New Orleans or a flood river plane in North Dakota, houses in flood zones should be built on stilts higher than predicted flood waters. Some home owners in New Orleans have started doing this. This is how traditional homes here were constructed here. Some homeowners, strapped for cash, have not raised their homes. It is time for building codes in all coastal towns south of I-10 and I-12 along to change. Many homes in Katrina had no wind damage, but were a complete loss because storm surge overpowered levees, flooding everything. In a nation where all flood insurance comes from the government, as do most of the emergency recovery funds, mitigating flooding with more grants to raise existing houses is a far better financial bet than paying out claims after the fact. Establishing better building codes for new construction in flood zones saves money in the long run for everyone.
2) The second is human denial among citizens and elected officials. Citizens first — A hurricane may kill you. If it doesn’t kill you, it can leave you without creature comforts like food, water and electricity for days, weeks, or months. Failing to heed an evacuation order leads to expensive and complicated rescues. I’ve been a storm chaser and journalist in many natural disasters in which people tell me they don’t plan to evacuate because they’ve stayed for other storms and survived. What I’ve learned covering these storms is that no two are alike. No two hurricanes come from exactly the same direction. No two hurricanes have exactly the same wind speeds. In Hurricane Katrina, for example, while the devastation and flooding was astounding, if the eye of the hurricane had passed only five to ten miles further to the West, the urban flooding up to rooftops would have been doubled. It is costly to evacuate, but it is far more costly for communities when residents fail to heed evacuation orders.
As for human denial among elected officials, then Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans is the poster child of human denial. Even when the head of the National Hurricane Center called to tell Nagin that a disaster was eminent, the mayor still waited too long to order evacuations. Evacuations that should have been called 48 hours before the storm were delayed until it was too late to logistically move people. While officials in other communities successfully followed plans and called for timely evacuations, one weak link was pivotal in causing tens of thousands to be trapped by flood waters and leading to hundreds of deaths, mostly by drowning. Those trapped in the flood then led to a massive human rescue effort that costs untold millions of dollars, when it reality there was time and there were resources sufficient enough to most of those people out of harm’s way.
3) The third sin falls in the area of communications. While many communities have emergency and disaster plans in place, they often fail to take the next step of having a crisis communications plan that effectively communicates urgency, peril, and evacuation options to constituents. Pre-written communications documents and properly trained spokespeople are the combination needed to motivate people to leave the their communities until it is safe to return. The proliferation of social media has created new ways to reach people and new ways to gather information about the unfolding crisis, but it also has created more opportunities for rumors and misinformation to spread.
Disasters create living classrooms in which people can learn what was done wrong and what was done right. The goal is to learn so the wrongs are never repeated and so that the rights are done perfectly.
To learn more, read previous posts about Hurricane Katrina.
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As more media outlets cut back on the size of their news staff, they are seeking more videos provided by eyewitnesses or experts. This is where you come in… and this creates a huge opportunity for you. I am publishing this series of tutorials to show corporate spokespeople, public information officers (PIOs), emergency managers and public relations professionals that uploading your own videos to the web during your crisis needs to be a part of your crisis communications strategy. The ultimate goal is for a major media outlet, such as CNN, to view your video and reach out to you to seek your official information.
These days, they will likely ask you to be interviewed via Skype.
If you are unfamiliar with Skype, visit www.skype.com and download the free application for you computer, smart phone and smart tablet.
The app allows you to make regular phone calls to regular telephone numbers, or it allows you to make a call from computer to computer with voice only, or you can set up a video chat from computer to computer.
CNN and the other news outlets want you to know how to set up the video chat.
Start by downloading the app. Next, set up your profile. Much like most social media sites, you can add your contact information and a photo.
CNN producers will then either call you or ask you to call them at an assigned time, during the news program. When it is time to go live, your Skype call is what the audience at home will see.
The quality of the image on Skype varies, based on the strength of your internet signal. Sometimes the image may freeze while you are live on the air. Sometimes the call will get dropped completely.
The networks know they are taking a risk when they do a Skype call, but if your location and event is news worthy and they have no news crew of their own nearby, they are willing to take the risk.
In one of my previous tutorials I mentioned that a set of ear buds or a USB headset can be useful during your live report. If you use these, you will need to find the audio button on the Skype software and select input and output for the headsets, rather than using the computer or smart device’s external speakers and microphone.
The secret to getting it right is to practice on a clear sunny day, rather than attempting to learn the hard way under the time constraints of a crisis and significant news event. Set up your account, study the account until you know all of the buttons you need to push, then establish a call between you and a colleague so you can practice.
If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program,Social Media iReports.pdf so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.
https://braudcommunications.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Logo-white-01-300x138.png00gbraudhttps://braudcommunications.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Logo-white-01-300x138.pnggbraud2015-06-29 11:34:432021-05-20 01:36:57Tutorial #17 Using Skype as Part of Your Crisis Communications Plan
In this series of 23 articles and videos, you will learn the skills needed to film and publish an online news report video about your crisis. If your event is newsworthy and your video is shot professionally, it could lead to a live interview with local or national media. If you are a spokesperson, public information officer (PIO), public relations professional or government agency, you should highly consider this process as a part of your crisis communications and media relations strategy.
If CNN sees your iReport and they like the content, a CNN producer will visit your profile page on CNN.com. They will collect your phone number and e-mail address and contact you, asking you to be a live guest on one of their programs.
Once a SKYPE connection has been established, you must be able to hear the producer talking to you and you must be able to hear the news anchors talking to you. If you are in a quiet location, you can turn up the volume on your smart phone or tablet and likely hear them just fine. But if there is a lot of background noise or blowing wind, you may find it necessary to use ear buds to hear the producers and news anchors.
Some ear buds have a built in microphone, which is optimal. Chances are, if it is too noisy for you to hear them, it may also be too noisy for them to hear you.
One option I select in some of my live reports is to use a USB SKYPE headset with my laptop. These headsets plug into my computer’s USB port. The headsets have earmuffs, that block out external noise so I can hear the news producers and news anchors. It also has a microphone on a flexible arm that gets very close to my mouth. This microphone makes it much easier for them to hear me, without them hearing the background noise.
The ear buds come free with most smart devices. The USB headphones can be purchased at any electronics retailer.
As with all of the skills shared in these tutorials, you’ll want to practice on a clear sunny day by having a SKYPE call with a colleague. Don’t wait until the day of your crisis to try to sort out the technical aspects of this. The networks give you only one change to get it right. If you blow it, you are blacklisted and they will call someone who knows what they are doing.
If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program, Social Media iReports.pdf, so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.
https://braudcommunications.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Logo-white-01-300x138.png00gbraudhttps://braudcommunications.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Logo-white-01-300x138.pnggbraud2015-06-25 03:45:242021-05-20 01:37:41Tutorial #15 How to Prepare for a Live Skype Interview with Local or National Media
Crisis communications videos are rarely created by corporate spokespeople, government officials, emergency managers, or public information officers (PIO). However, they are an extremely effective way to communicate with your audiences in a crisis. You can be the official spokesperson and speak directly to the media about your crisis, rather than an eyewitness on the street who could be speculating or blowing your issue out of proportion. To create a quality video there are many variables, including how you frame yourself on camera.
Click image to watch video
Think about your vacation photos and videos. When you are in the image, do you see just a little of you and a lot of other stuff around you? Is your head in the middle of the picture, with your body at the bottom, and a bunch of sky above your head?
If so, you are likely not framing your images properly.
Photographers and videographers generally practice what is known as the rule of thirds. Photographers, especially when framing an individual in a photo or video, leave no space for sky above your head. Your hair or forehead fills the top of the frame. Your nose generally fills the center third. Your chin and neck would then fill the bottom third.
While this addresses the horizontal elements of your image, you must also consider the vertical portions of what you have framed. Often, you fill the left or right third of the frame, leaving the other two-thirds as positive space to your left or right.
Much of the poor framing we see today is the result of an entire generation of people using digital cameras. Because the yellow focus square in the viewfinder is in the middle of the viewfinder, most people stand far away from the person in the photo, then frame their head in the focus square. This is horrible. Stop doing it.
Step forward and get closer to the person whose photo you wish to take, then frame it as I have described above.
As with all of these video skills, you must practice in order to get it right. So after viewing the tutorial, take out your smart phone or tablet and record a video. You can also go home to your computer and look at some of your old photos. You’ll likely see that you’ve been framing pictures incorrectly for a long time… but soon you’ll be doing it right every time.
If you, like many others, think this information would be valuable as a workshop at a conference or corporate meeting, please call me at 985-624-9976. You can also download a PDF that outlines the program, Social Media iReports.pdf so you can share it with your meeting planner or training manager.
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