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  • Module 1 – Introduction to Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Deborah Grigsby Smith State of Colorado Director of External Communications Homeland Security
  • Agenda
    • Definitions
    • What is a/an crisis, disaster,emergency
    • Potential crisis situations
    • Crisis communications complications
    • Examples good/bad crisis communications
    • Crisis communication lifecycle
    • Parting thoughts/handouts
    • Questions and thank yous
  • Obligatory disclaimer
    • Not an expert in any form of public health, healthcare
    • Basic overview only
    • Much more to learn, so it’s okay to be confused at this point
    • Don’t have all the answers, but I’m willing to help you track them down…
  • CDC Module 1 says…
    • Four types of communication
      • Crisis communication
      • Issues management communication
      • Risk communication
      • Crisis and emergency risk communication
  • Some definitions
    • Crisis communication
      • Experiencing something unexpected
      • Organization must respond
      • Implies lack of control by the organization
    • Communicator: participant
    • Time pressure: urgent and unexpected
    • Message purpose: explain and persuade
  • What is a crisis, exactly…?
    • Unexpected
    • Uncontrolled
    • Disrupts or impedes normal operations
    • Intense public and media attention
    • Interferes with achieving organizational goals
    • Threatens reputation/public trust
    • Damage can be real or PERCEIVED
  • How well you perform…
    • Will ALWAYS be front page news
      • Media coverage of the 911 Commission hearings
        • “… apparently contradictory evacuation orders…”
          • AFP Coverage
        • “… conflicting advice from emergency teams…”
          • Reuters
        • “… communication gaps…lack of coordination…”
          • Associated Press
  • Some definitions
    • Issues management communication
      • Similar to crisis
      • Organization has luxury of forewarning and can plan response to stakeholders
      • Organization is central to the event
    • Communicator: participant
    • Time pressure: anticipated, can be controlled
    • Message purpose: explain and persuade, and empower decision making
  • Some definitions
    • Risk communication
      • Flourishes in environmental health field
      • Provides the receiver with information about the expected outcome from a behavior or exposure
    • Communicator: Expert that did not participate in event; is neutral regarding the outcome
    • Time pressure: anticipated, little or no time pressure
    • Message purpose: explain and empower receiver’s decision making process
  • Speaking of exposure risk…
  • Some definitions
    • Crisis and emergency risk communication
      • Different from crisis as communicator is not perceived as a participant
      • Effort by experts to provide information to stakeholder to make the best decision about their well-being within impossible time constraints
    • Communicator: expert who is post-event participant invested in the outcome
    • Time pressure: urgent and unexpected
    • Message purpose: explain and persuade, and empower decision making
  • Emergencies, disaster, crises
    • What do they all have in common?
      • Simply something bad has happened, is about to happen, or is currently happening
      • Can be called an emergency, disaster, or a crisis depending on the magnitude of the event and the current phase of the event
  • Potential crisis situations
    • Fatality
    • Natural disaster
    • Terrorism
    • Workplace violence
    • Health and Safety issues
    • Environmental issues
    • Law suits
    • Criminal activity
    • Security
    • Activists
    • Racial issues
    • Failure
    • Sudden change in management
    • Sabotage
    • Financial actions
    • Implication by association
  • Crisis Complications
    • Increasing population densities
    • Lots of people in high-risk areas
    • Increased technology risks (hazmat)
    • Aging population
    • Emerging diseases and antimicrobial resistance
    • Increasingly mobile society
    • More international travel
    • Terrorism
    • Instantaneous communication
  • Some recognizable crises…
    • Airline crashes (TWA 800, Pan Am 103, AA 587)
    • World Trade Center Bombings (1993 and 2001)
    • Exxon Valdez
    • Ford Firestone Recall
    • Enron
    • Tylenol Cyanide incident
    • Monica Lewinski Scandal
    • Ebola virus
  • Good crisis management:
    • Tylenol Cyanide Incident
      • Jim Burke, Johnson & Johnson CEO immediately expressed commitment to and concern for customers
      • Was not afraid to pull product and lose sales in the short term in order to protect public safety
      • Honest and commitment elevated customer trust and reputation damage was minimal (full market share restores within 12 months)
      • Redefined how companies deal with public safety—take action, don’t just talk.
  • Bad crisis management:
    • Ford Firestone™ Recall
      • Ford dribbled out information as they were pressured by the media.
      • Started with a partial recall of a defective product
      • Withheld important information and pointed fingers.
      • Did not put safety and security of customers first—made litigation strategy the focus
      • Penny-wise in this case was indeed pound foolish
    • Be prepared
    • Foster alliances
    • Get consensus
    • Test messages
    • Help public clarify risks
    • Background and detailed info for those who need it
    • Gain understanding and support for response and recovery plans
    • Listen for feedback and aggressively correct misinformation
    • Empower risk/benefit decision-making
    • Acknowledge the event with empathy
    • Explain and inform the public in simple terms about the risk
    • Establish agency and spokes person credibility
    • Provide emergency courses of action (include where and how to get information)
    • Commit to free-flowing information
    • Improve response in similar emergencies through education
    • Honestly examine problems/successes
    • Persuade the public to support public policy and resource allocation to problem
    • Tell the story of your successes and capabilities (internally, externally)
    • Evaluate communication plan performance
    • Document lessons learned
    • Determine specific actions to improve crisis systems and/or your crisis plan
  • Pre-crisis phase
    • Be prepared
      • Go-kit (backgrounders, key messages)
      • JIS/JIC/Virtual JIC
      • Shadow Web site
    • Foster alliances, share information
      • Critical for consistent messages
    • Develop consensus recommendations
    • Develop and test plan and messages
  • Initial phase
    • Acknowledge the event with empathy
      • “I understand.”
    • Explain and inform the public, in the simplest terms, about the risks involved
    • Establish org/spokesperson credibility
    • Provide emergency courses of action (how/where to get more information)
    • Commit to continued and open communication
  • Crisis maintenance
    • Help public and stakeholders more accurately understand their own risks
    • Provide backgrounders to those who need it
    • Gain understanding and support for response and recovery plans
    • Listen to feedback and aggressively correct misinformation
    • Explain emergency recommendations
    • Empower risk/benefit decision making
  • Crisis resolution
    • Improve appropriate response in future emergencies through education
    • Honestly examine problems/successes
    • Persuade public to support public policy and resource allocation
    • Tell your story to everyone! Promote your activities and capabilities…reinforce your corporate identity both externally and internally.
  • Evaluation
    • Evaluate communication plan performance
    • Document lessons learned
    • Determine specific actions to improve crisis system and/or crisis plan
    • Seek feedback from partners and other organizations involved— yes, even the media.
  • Parting thoughts
    • Planning is the key
      • Develop a crisis communication plan in writing
        • Names, numbers, checklists, role clarification
        • Arrange MOU with sister organizations
        • Order supplies (pens, paper, CDs, DVDs, diazepam in the large economy jug)
        • Build your shadow Web/virtual JIC
        • Meet regularly and train, brainstorm
        • Write key messages, backgrounders, collect stock photos, build a Go-kit.
  • More parting thoughts
    • Don’t reinvent the wheel
      • Use others’ work as learning tool
      • Ask other for help, advice, direction
    • Don’t even imagine doing it by yourself
      • Build your human resources now
        • Train receptionists, interns, non-essential personnel to help (phone calls, log queries)
      • Plan for the very worst, then scale back as you need
  • More parting thoughts
    • Remember to make provisions in your plan to take care of yourselves and your team
      • By planning for a crisis now, you divert stress, chaos and disorganization
        • Proper tools for the job
        • Budget for equipment, software, etc.
        • Sleep, food, mental health, family responsibility
  • Most importantly
    • Trust your instincts…
      • If it doesn’t look right, or feel right…ASK
      • Don’t be afraid to challenge the information you receive
        • Use the Internet, other experts in other departments or jurisdictions if you need
      • Don’t allow yourself to be bullied
        • Your job is to help ensure ACCURATE information
        • Don’t be afraid to do your job
          • Develop networks, resources and tools.
    • And if something happens that you do have to make an uncomfortable exit….
  • Questions and thank yous!
    • Thank you!
    • ¡ Gracias!
    • Danke!
    • Merci!
    • Shukran !
    • Mahalo nui loa!
    • Domo arigato!
    • Tack så mycket!