By Bruce Hennes, Hennes Communications
Public officials, CEOs, executive directors and members of for-profit and non-profit boards have a responsibility to their stakeholders to plan for situations that will imperil life, limb and the ability of their organizations to fulfill their missions.
In the immediate aftermath of a major incident, such as a mass shooting at a mall, restaurant, school or a faith-based location, the lead spokesperson for that event will come from among local police chiefs, state and federal law enforcement officials.
But “major incidents” (for example, civil disturbances, accusations of police misconduct, heat waves, massive winter storms, wildfires, tornados, cyberattacks and power outages) often turn into multi-day or multi-week events. That means it may fall to you to be “communicator-in-chief” for days or even weeks that follow. Will you know what to do? Will you know what to say?
Hennes Communications’ Howard Fencl has compiled a checklist of critical communication tactics and content you’ll need if you’re thrust into a situation, particularly involving civil unrest, with no crisis communications plan.
Unfortunately, as we have found, too many organizations haven’t used the time before the crisis hits, to build that plan. A carefully thought out and executed crisis communications plan will work in tandem with your operational emergency plan and help organizational leaders quickly and effectively assume the role of “communicator-in-chief,” with stakeholders seeking information about the victims, logistical information – and possibly messages of unity and healing.
The operational emergency plan along with the crisis communications plan will identify short lists of activities, each requiring appropriate messaging:
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The creation of a crisis communications plan starts with a vulnerability audit to determine which scenarios to prepare for. The plan answers these questions for each scenario:
Then, with messages, statements and news releases all approved, companies and organizations are better able to respond to situations and mitigate reputational damage.
For more information about how your organization can prepare for the situations detailed above, please contact Hennes Communications at 216-321-7774.