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Tutorial #17 Using Skype as Part of Your Crisis Communications Plan

Tutorial #17 by Gerard Braud —

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

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.

Take a look at this specific video tutorial to learn more.

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.

During your practice, you’ll want to incorporate many of the other lessons you’ve learned through these tutorials, including managing audio, lighting and movement, as well as what to say.

This link will take you to my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

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.

 

 

Tutorial #16 How to Add Simple Yet Effective Movement to Your Web Video

Tutorial #16 By Gerard Braud

If you decide to file a web video as part of your crisis communications or media relations strategy, you can speak directly to the media about your crisis. Not only can the media access it and view it, but so will your audiences such as customers and employees. Now that we have mastered, sound and lighting,  you can focus on increasing the number of people who view your video by adding some simple movement to your video.

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

Think about your own web video viewing habits. If a video is entertaining you watch it. If a video is boring, you click to something else.

In some CNN iReports, the entire report is filled with just video of a breaking news story. Other times, a person is on camera talking, which is generally what I do in most of my CNN iReports. I’m usually on location, recreating the same type of Live Shot that I did when I was a television reporter.

Sometimes  movement can be as simple as turning the camera on your smart device to the left or right. Sometimes, you can walk and talk as you go. In some of my reports I do both, and even stop to bend down and pick up items I may be referencing in my verbal narration.

Watch today’s video tutorial to learn more.

As you add movement, it needs to have purpose. Show us something interesting as you move. Let the audience see things from your point of view — television producers call this POV, i.e. point of view.

As you move, be aware of what is behind you. You don’t want to accidentally show something that would be embarrassing.

To effectively master this skill, you need to practice in advance. So take a few minutes to first watch my video tutorial on this topic, then use your own smart phone or tablet to record a video in which you move left or right or walk. Practice it on a clear sunny day, so you’ll be prepared on the day you need it.

This link will take you to all of my tutorials on the CNN iReporter website. I hope you take the time to view, study, and share all 23 videos and articles.

This link will take you to the index for all of the articles and videos.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Select the Right Spokesperson? Should it be the PR person?

CrisisDrillGerardBraudWho should be your media spokesperson in a crisis?

In a recent blog, we reviewed Argument #1: The CEO Should Always Be the Spokesperson.

Now we can review Argument #2: When Should the PR Person Be the Spokesperson?

The public relations person is an excellent choice as a spokesperson in the first hour of the crisis when media might be just arriving. But your PR guy or gal doesn’t need to be the spokesperson throughout an entire crisis, nor would I suggest they be your only long term spokesperson.

The best argument for using your public relations expert in the early hours of a crisis is because other members of the crisis management team are likely responding to and managing the crisis. Also, those other experts will rely on the PR team to provide them with the words, talking points, and key messages that need to be communicated.

In most cases, your public relations person has a natural gift for words, both spoken and written. These are usually natural gifts that other members of the crisis management team do not have. Usually the C-Suite is heavy on analytical thinkers who are better with numbers, facts, and figures than with words.

If you weigh your options and look at the variables, the senior member of your public relations team is a perfect first choice, especially when a spokesperson is needed in the first hour of the crisis.

Also, always make sure a PR person is on the crisis management team. Additionally, they should serve as leader of the crisis communications team.

Many companies are slow to communicate in a crisis because:

1) they wait until they know everything before they say anything

2) they are waiting for the CEO or a senior manager to free up long enough to speak

My best recommendation is that you should speak within the first hour of a crisis, even when only a few facts are known. You can tell the media what you know now and add more details later.  A “First Critical Statement” is the document that I use in every crisis communications plan I write. It should be in your crisis communications plan also. To download your free copy of my First Critical Statement, use the coupon code CRISISCOMPLAN when you select the item from my shopping cart.

When few facts are known, it allows the PR person to:

1) Acknowledge the crisis

2) Provide basic facts

3) Say something quotable, while promising more information at a future briefing

Our previous blog about speaking with one voice and relying on the CEO explains my belief that multiple spokespeople can speak on behalf of the company and SHOULD speak with one voice.

In our next blog on this topic, I’ll give you a third option as you decide how best to select the right spokesperson for your company.

By Gerard Braud

Media Training 23: Selecting the Right Spokesperson

By Gerard Braud

www.braudcommunications.com

Picking the right spokesperson really depends upon the situation.

Many organizations tend to have two extremes in selecting spokespeople. Some organizations always send out their top PR person while other organizations insist that only the CEO speak.

I endorse neither of these approaches as perfect and will suggest that sometimes the top PR person is a great choice and likewise in some cases the CEO is a great choice.

But in many cases, neither of these people is a good choice.

In fact, if you think back to lesson 12 in which we talk about passing the cynic test, many reporters cynically will think that the PR spokesperson will be too polished, slick and rehearsed, and is therefore serving as a buffer to protect executives who are afraid to talk and who are vulnerable to difficult questions. Conversely, if the cynics see the CEO out front as the spokesperson for certain events, they will assume that the event is more serious because the CEO is having to handle the situation.

As a reporter, I generally wanted to talk to the person closest to the story or issue I was covering. If a hospital has a new procedure to announce, I’d rather speak to a front line doctor than either the PR person or the CEO. If the news report is about a non-profit agency, the best spokesperson for the story might likely be a volunteer. If a company is accused of wrong doing, I’d like to interview the manager who is closet to the issue at hand. If there is a fire and explosion, I’d rather speak to an eye witness or line supervisor.

The closer you can get the reporter to the person closest to the issue or event, the happier they will be.

Of course, this means that when it comes to media training, you need to use the same principle that a great sports team uses. You must train lots of people and build bench strength.

Training deep means managing budgets and calendars such that you can do both primary training and refresher training on a regular budget. Usually, budgeting time and funds is proportionate to the size of your organization. In proposing deep training and budgeting, just remember that the value of a single news story can easily pay for a single media training session. In fact, in most cases, the relative ad value of a single news story is 3 to 9 times greater than the cost of a media training class.

As an example, a 30-second TV commercial during a newscast may cost $4,000 to $5,000, which might also be the cost of a single media training class. However, according to the rules of relative ad value, a 30 second TV news story is considered 3 times more believable than a 30 second advertisement, hence the relative ad value of a 30 second news story could be $12,000 to $15,000. Most news stories run 90 seconds, which could increase the relative ad value of a single TV news story to $36,000 to $45,000 dollars or more. To take it one step further, most towns have one newspaper, 3-5 television stations and multiple news radio stations. Hence, the relative ad value of a news event could easily be worth $300,000 or more, depending upon which city you live in and the price of a 30 second commercial. More modern measurement methods can be even more precise in measuring relative ad value because they calculate the positive and negative nature of the story. The bottom line is that you can easily justify investing funds to train multiple spokespeople based on the positive financial impact it may have. Remember our rule about, “if you could attach a dollar to every word you say, would you make money or lose money.”

Hence, develop bench strength so you can have a large number of spokespeople to send forth and not just the head of PR or the CEO.

As for using the PR person, in Don Henley’s song, “Dirty Laundry,” he speaks of the bubble headed bleach blonde news anchor who comes on at 5 p.m. and how she can tell you about the plane crash with a gleam in her eye. Well the same is true of many PR spokespeople, which makes them not my choice on many occasions as spokespeople.

Regardless of whether news is good or bad, some spokespeople are able to stand before reporters and maintain a bubbly persona as though all is well, even when it isn’t. Their answers are often glib, superficial and poorly rehearsed. I hate that and so do most reporters and that is why many times I don’t want a PR person to be the spokesperson.

At the same time, many CEOs attempt to be too serious, attempt to communicate way too many details and generally look like the world’s biggest grump. I hate spokespeople like that.

The one time when I always want the PR person and the CEO ready to both act as spokespeople is when I write a crisis communications plan for an organization. I generally ask that the PR spokesperson and CEO both be included as spokespeople, along with a host of other executives.

Generally, in the first hour of a crisis, when information is still limited and most executives are busy managing the crisis at hand, I suggest that the PR spokesperson read what I describe as the “First Critical Statement.” This document lays out the very basics of what is known until more details are available.

Generally, I follow the initial statement one hour later with a more detailed statement delivered by a manager who has more expertise and knowledge about the subject at hand. This is one of the reasons why mid level executives need to be media trained.

Many companies will have sent out their CEO by this point to serve as the point person and lead spokesperson. I do not agree with this approach because I would prefer for the CEO to be leading the crisis team during the crisis. Furthermore, if a company uses a CEO as their spokesperson and the CEO misspeaks, who will come behind the CEO and clean things up if the CEO makes a mistake. Generally, I save the CEO to be the final spokesperson when the crisis is over. It both allows the CEO to clean up after any misstatements by middle managers and it allows the CEO to be portrayed as a leader who was managing the crisis.

Words are important, but you also send signals to the media by whom you select as your spokesperson. Choose wisely.

In our next lesson we’ll discuss the do’s and don’ts of a news conference.