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5 Crisis Communications Lessons from Cuomo’s Coronavirus Response

From Michael Kling, writing for Glean.

Public relations experts and other commentators point to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 communications as an example of how leaders should speak to the public during a crisis.

Business leaders and PR professionals can examine Cuomo’s press conferences for several crisis communications lessons. While the New York governor lacks flowery language and eloquent public speaking abilities, his communications style helps calm the public and accurately inform audiences.  His communications style shows that florid language is not necessary for effective leadership.

Here’s an overview of some of those key lessons.

Start with Data – Explore the Facts

Cuomo starts his press conferences with numbers. He doesn’t whitewash the data or understate the seriousness of the situation. In one recent press conference, he said New York State had 53,000 ICU beds, and health experts predicted the state would need 140,000 over the next 14-21 days. Also, he said, New York State was short roughly 30,000 ventilators to treat acute cases of COVID-19. Besides informing the public, hard numbers increase the speaker’s authority.

“At a time of crisis, people are not looking for sugar-coated reassurances that everything is fine. They need to know the facts,” says Dan Sweet, director of public relations at RP3 Agency.

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