More on Crisis Communication

[To comment: larry at larry litwin dot com]

Three Rules of (Damage Control) Crisis Communication

1.Get information out early.

• Respond within 2-4 hours (quicker, if possible) – if only as an acknowledgment that you are on top of the situation.

2.Get it out yourself.

• The spokesperson should be a high profile representative of the organization.

3.Get it out on your own terms – control the message.

• Tell it First

• Tell it Fast

• Tell it All

• Tell it Yourself

Whether the crisis is the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, child sex-abuse at Penn State University or some less visible organization, or a mass shooting at a school or movie theater, a major charity executive embezzling funds, the (seven) Tylenol-related deaths in 1982, or a space shuttle tragedy, the public wants and deserves answers. As J. William Jones says, those answers must be based on accurate information and should be given by “unflappable” professionals who know what they are talking about. The need for crisis management policies has become a major priority for many corporations and other organizations. Thanks to effective planning, victim organizations can control a crisis through rapid systematic dissemination of information – being proactive rather than reactive – so long as that information is factual. Strategic counselors and reporters alike agree there is no substitute for believability (truth) and credibility (trust). Once lost, they are nearly impossible to regain. Avoid any instincts to minimize or cover up bad news. If not totally truthful and trustworthy, the media will eventually discover your unprofessional approach. What ever trust you once had will be gone forever. Keep in mind, when dealing with a crisis, the goal should be more than just “damage control.” If the crisis communication plan is carried out properly and successfully, the damage control will take care of itself. When a crisis hits, your publics want to know: what happened; how it will affect them; what is going to be done about it.

Communicate Early and Often

•Contact the media before they contact you.

•Communicate internally first, then externally.

•Put the public first.

•Take responsibility.

•Be honest.

•Never say “No comment.”

•Designate a single spokesperson.

•Set up a central information center(staging area).

•Provide a constant flow of information.

•Be familiar with media needs and deadlines.

•Monitor news coverage and telephone inquiries.

•Communicate with key publics.

•Be accessible.

[To comment: larry at larry litwin dot com]