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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


NFL Super Bowl 2019: Is the NFL in Crisis?

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

On last week’s BraudCast we asked you if the NFL is in a crisis. In this week’s BraudCast video we share your answers.

By my standards, a crisis is anything that can damage a brand’s reputation and revenue. Keep this crisis definition in mind as you watch this week’s video, which shares answers from our viewers.

As you think about the NFL and their potential crises, what are the potential crises for your brand?

In our 5 Steps to Effective Crisis Communications free online course, we point to Step 1 – your Vulnerability Assessment. Just as the NFL needs to conduct a Vulnerability Assessment, you should be doing the same thing at your company. The new year is a perfect time to kick off the practice.

To learn more about Vulnerability Assessments and the other four steps, sign up for our free 5-part video series.

I’d love to know what vulnerabilities you identify for your organization. Take advantage of the free phone call offered in the 5-Steps video series. We can talk about what your vulnerabilities are and how you can either eliminate them or prepare a crisis communications strategy to deal with them.

This question is one of a series of debates in the media relations, crisis communications, public relations, and social media industries where you and your colleagues can share observations with each other. Yes, YOU are invited to share your bite size bits of best practices. Here is how:

Step 1: Subscribe to The BraudCast on YouTube

Step 2: You will see a short video that poses a new question every Monday. You then post your best practices and observations on The BraudCast YouTube channel.

3: Once your opinion is shared, you can follow the discussion online so you can compare your best practices to those of your professional colleagues.

Step 4: Watch the Follow up Friday Video where you will see a short YouTube video outlining some of the most interesting observations. Yes…your comments may actually show up on our BraudCast video, bringing you world-wide fame, fortune, a big raise, glory, street parades, and more.

Thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge. Please take 2 seconds now to subscribe to The BraudCast.

2019 Crisis Communications Planning Based on 2018 Trends

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC

There are many great articles about the biggest PR crises in 2018. Rather than write such an article this year, I thought it would be more effective to help you plan your 2019 crisis communications strategies based on what happened in 2018. Read more

Twas the Night Before Christmas With Edits

By Gerard Braud

The poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas, is only 56 lines long. As writing goes, it’s pretty perfect. But we all know there are people where you work, who feel compelled to make edits, no matter how perfect your writing is. Maybe it’s the CEO or CFO, or an engineer, IT guy, accountant, doctor, or even the lawyer. Sure, they just want it to be more accurate and legally correct. But are all of those edits really necessary?

So for those of you who feel compelled to make edits, and to those of you who have been victimized by a red pen, I offer to you this special version of the poem, with edits. ©2018

Twas the Night Before Christmas With Edits

 

 Twas the nocturnal period preceding the annual Christian festival, when throughout the domicile

 

No one of consequence was moving, including the rodents

 

Long socks receptacles were suspended near the thermal unit, with safety as a top priority

in expectation that a legendary Christian Bishop, born in the region of modern day Turkey, in or about 280 A.D., who was later Canonized by the Pope, would arrive post-haste

 

The humans below the legal age of majority, were reclined comfortably within their sleeping apparatuses

 

While apparitions of dehydrated fruit, filled their subconscious

 

And the maternal figure donning a headscarf, and I, in a consensual relationship, did likewise

 

Had just reached a state of extended hibernation

 

When in an external grassy zone, a ruckus occurred

 

I spontaneously ejected myself from my sleeping device, to evaluate the situation

 

Away to an opening in the wall I expedited myself

 

With vigor, I forcefully opened a set of protective panels

 

The satellite of the earth unified with the flakes of ice crystals

 

Gave the reflective quality of noon, to objects below

 

When, while visibly curious there appeared

 

A smaller than common vehicle of transport and eight proportional deer, common to subarctic regions

 

With a demure heavy equipment operator, so agile and prompt

 

I surmise instantly that it must be the aforementioned Saint

 

More rapid than birds of prey, the mammals came

 

And he exuded a high-pitched sound, then proclaimed their given names

 

You may Google the historic names if necessary, since corporate policy prohibits us from releasing names without consent… and because some of the names imply behavior that may be deemed as inappropriate or suggestive, and not in keeping with our policies regarding sexual harassment in the workplace

 

To the top of covered shelter protecting the entrance to our domicile

To the top of the vertical structure supporting the inner and outer cladding

 

Now run or travel somewhere in a great hurry, bolt, and/or gallop

 

As foliage void of moisture within a tropical cyclone, having winds exceeding 74 miles per hour

 

When they encountered structures that hindered forward progress, they accelerating upward

 

So up to the structure’s ridgeline the beast maneuvered

 

With the vehicle at capacity with objects of play; and the Bishop inside as well

 

And then like chimes, I heard on the ridgeline

 

The exaggerated movement, and clatter of horny feet

 

As I extracted my head from the framed opening, and was moving in a circular motion

 

Down the vertical channel for combustion gases, came the Saint, with great haste, void of OSHA required protective gear

 

His wardrobe consisted of natural mammal pets with hair still attached, covering his entirety, much to the protest of certain animal rights activist

 

The garments were discolored with combustion residue

 

A sum of replicas were suspended to the rear of his torso

 

And like a merchant of goods, he displayed all of his wares

 

His visual organs – how they reflected the light

His facial indentions exhibited great joy

 

His face just below his eye socket, was reminiscent of blooming thorn-filled plants; his nostril area like ripe, round fruit

 

His pursed lips, they provoked such dry amusement

 

And his unshaven facial hair was similar in color to the crystalized precipitation

 

The extension of a tobacco burning device was clinched within the enamel-coated structures of his jaw

 

And cancer causing carbon particles were visible in a circular shape

 

His facial structure was wider than it was tall

His spherical abdominal region


Vibrated upon guffaw, resembling a food basin at capacity with sweet, semisolid preserve

 

His weight-to-height ratio was disproportionate; while he correctly personified a character portrayed in a seasonal holiday movie classic starring Will Ferrell

 

And there was humor in his antics, despite my presence

 

A non-flirtatious closing one eye, and a rotation of his neck

 

Soon indicated he was friend and not foe and therefore there was no need to seek outside mutual aid

 

He remained silent and demonstrated a commendable work ethic

 

And he filled the long sock receptacles; then made a quick, sudden movement

 

And he placed his index digit beside his nostril trunk

 

And with acknowledgement, he ascended the combustion chamber vent

 

He extradited himself to his transport, then repeated the high-pitched sound

 

And away the individual and his mammals departed through a control ascent in the atmosphere, similar in nature to the seed disbursement mechanism of certain plants

 

But I was able to discern his verbal proclamation as he departed from vision

 

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night… despite the edits.

 

©2018 Diversified Media, LLC dba Gerard Braud 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:

Please Pick Me to be Your Media Trainer

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

3 Traps Public Relations Folks Fall Into

spider-web-1031615_19201) Too many people in public relations fail to ask for help when they need it.

There are many sources for expert help and advice. There are great professional organizations like the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRA), and the Southern Public Relations Association (SPRF).

Many members of these associations are willing to pick up the phone for free to answer a simple question. If most don’t know the answer to your question, they’ll gladly refer you to a colleague who is an expert. You could even give them a shout on social media.

2) Public relations folks cause greater problems for themselves by trying to tackle tasks that they are not good at or for which they have no professional passion.

In my own career, my passion for dealing with the media and crisis communications lead me to develop a niche’, rather than opening a full-service PR agency. If I need other aspects of PR, I call other experts who have PR agencies in New Orleans, New York, Toronto or other cities around the world.

Trying to do what you don’t know how to do is noble. Trying, learning, and achieving great things are commendable. But reaching beyond your capabilities often leads to failure, which then leads to you being further undervalued by your employer. Sometimes you get fired when the failure is too big. Often the difference between success and failure is simply asking for professional help.

And based on the personality type, you need to realize that most of your employers do not understand your craft or your profession. They think it is easy. Business leaders think you can work miracles. CEOs expect you to create magic on a shoestring budget. And often you do create magic with no budget and it feels great when you do. But when you do, you reinforce the notion of every CFO that you don’t need a bigger budget to do what you do. In reality, often you need to push back and say, “No, we need an outside expert to help us with that because the value of success is important and a potential failure would be more costly.”

Some of you are blessed to be in organizations with a huge PR team with experts in many areas of social media, internal communications, employee engagement, corporate social responsibility, and media relations. Many of you wear too many hats and do it all by yourself, including marketing, branding, advertising, and customer service.

3) Public relations folks often wear too many hats and do it all by themselves, including marketing, branding, advertising, and customer service.

Before you reach too far and fail, consider picking up the phone and reaching out to a professional colleague to ask for advice, help, and mentorship.

 

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:

3 Lessons the Melania Trump Coat Can Teach All Public Relations People

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

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PR and Communications People: It’s Time to Re-evaluate Your Life

concept-1868728_1920By Gerard Braud

Public relations and corporate communications professionals: It’s time to look at your life. The kids are back in school. The Labor Day weekend is behind you. Co-workers have all wrapped up their summer vacations. For the first time since Memorial Day the entire staff is all in one place at one time. What was not even a second thought last week is suddenly urgent and important.

Is “work – life” balance possible for people in public relations? Experience tells me many public relations professionals get stressed trying to complete job tasks while also balancing their family or personal life, especially this time of year.

Do you feel invigorated to recommit yourself to achieving end of year goals? Or do you feel stressed because so much has gone unaccomplished all summer and now deadline pressures are looming?

If you had work-life balance you would feel neither re-invigorated nor stressed after Labor Day because you live your entire year in balance rather than the ups and downs and ebbs and flow of a chaotic corporate existence.

Here are three ways to level out your life.

1) Implement a rolling 12-month calendar

Develop a strategic communications plan based on a rolling 12-month calendar and stop planning your communications based on either your calendar year or your fiscal year. When PR people live by a calendar year there is the “fresh start” syndrome of January, complete with soon-to-fail New Year resolutions. Next you spend January and February getting ready to get ready.

March, April and May are your busy times of the year, with pauses for spring break and Memorial Day. Little gets accomplished in the summer because too many people who impact your goals and projects are on vacation. By the time you regroup after Labor Day, it takes several weeks to get rolling again, similar to New Years. By mid-September you are productive again and you stay focused through Halloween. Your mind then starts planning for Thanksgiving break and then for Christmas. Before you know it, New Years rolls around and you hit reset all over again.

Does this sound like you? If so, it appears you have five productive months a year and seven months of distractions.

Set a goal from September 2014, through September 2015. Strategically plan all of your goals and deadlines for training, publications, etc. On October 1, 2014, extend the strategic plans and goals by one additional month, through October 2015. Keep doing this at the first of every month and you now have a rolling 12-month calendar.

2) Plan around the obstacles

When you build your 12-month rolling calendar, set clear, hard deadlines. Identify the times of the year when people are inaccessible, such as in the summer, and plan around those challenges. If you need a team meeting or a training program next June, send the invitations out now, before people fill their calendars with vacation dates. That will make next summer more productive because you planned so far in advance. Everything won’t come to a grinding halt.

3) Budget accordingly

A 12-month rolling calendar will make the budgeting process easier. You should set clear goals now to spend your remaining budgets before the end of your calendar or fiscal year, so you don’t lose those dollars. But as you enter your new budgeting phase and make budget requests, you should also schedule on your calendar exactly when you plan to spend your dollars for training and projects using your 12-month rolling calendar.

Planning this way allows you to get contracts in place early, which legally commits your funds to vendors now, preventing the boss from taking your money away should conditions change for the worse down the road.

Stop losing momentum. Adopt a rolling 12-month calendar that resets strategic goals and budgets at the start of each month for the next 12-months. Too many people live start and stop lives. Recommit today to end the ebb and flow to achieve greater work-life balance.

 

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:

3 Lessons the Melania Trump Coat Can Teach All Public Relations People

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

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Are You a Social Media Hypocrite?

https-::pixabay.com:en:facebook-social-media-addiction-2387089:By, Gerard Braud

When it comes to social media and crisis communications, it’s all about analyzing how your particular audience uses social media. But before we talk about them, we should talk about you and your personal social media habits.

There are still companies that have no Facebook page, no Twitter, and no YouTube channel. Some companies have zero social media. Some companies have set up social media pages, but do not use them consistently. Some companies post frequently to one or more social media channels.

It’s time to cut to the point, especially for companies aggressively posting to social media. On a clear sunny day, when there is no crisis at hand, are you a social media hypocrite? Do you — or someone on your communications team — sit in your office each day updating your corporate social media sites expecting your audiences to follow you, when in fact you don’t personally follow any other companies?

At home, on your personal Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, do you personally follow your bank on social media? Do you follow your hospital? Do you follow your electric company?

As I was teaching my Social Media When “It” Hits the Fan workshop recently to a state-wide medical association, the audience was initially appalled that I asked if they were social media hypocrites. They then realized they were. Each has spent countless hours developing Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for their hospitals. Some had branched out into Pinterest and Instagram. Yet in reflection, they realized that they spend a lot of time posting information for their corporate social media accounts, with the belief their audiences and customers would read it, when in fact they didn’t follow their bank, doctor, oil company, etc.

The audience quickly realized that they were social media hypocrites. Many realized that they were social media and public relations sheep, setting up social media accounts because some so-called social media expert said that every company needs to be on social media or you will be left behind.

It’s also crucial that we talk about the age and social media habits of your audience to determine if social media is the right fit for your organization on a clear sunny day when there is no crisis, because this will affect whether you can reach them during a crisis.

In my research and experience, there is a large generational divide between those who use it and those who don’t, which we will address in greater detail later. The age and social media habits of your audience will help you decide when and if social media needs to be part of your crisis communication strategy. People in their mid-20’s pioneered social media behavior and made  Facebook popular. Now, as some grandparents join Facebook to keep track of their grandkids, younger participants are leaving because Facebook isn’t as cool anymore.

For the most part, it is safe to say that people under 35 are more active than those who are older. So as you decide if social media is right for you, keep this in mind. The best research on social media behavior can be viewed here.

When “it” hits the fan, you have to ask yourself, what does your audience need to know and how do you want them to behave? What is it that you want them to do? Sometimes you need to communicate safety information in the throes of a crisis. Perhaps you need to evacuate a community before a hurricane or issue advisories to your customers and employees before a bad weather event. Many times you may be communicating with your audiences because of an ugly rumor or the exposure of a scandal.

Whatever the crisis, whatever the situation may be, you need to know how to best reach your audience, and make sure you are not a social media hypocrite.

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:

3 Lessons the Melania Trump Coat Can Teach All Public Relations People

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

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

 

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