Crisis Communications for NGOs


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Crisis Communications for NGOs

  1. 1. Crisis Communications Sanjana Hattotuwa Senior Researcher, Centre for Policy Alternatives
  2. 2. Preparing for the impossible <ul><li>Develop communications strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Develop scenario planning with worst case scenarios </li></ul><ul><li>Have designated personnel to handle crisis communications </li></ul><ul><li>Build media awareness at all levels and operational frameworks of the organisation </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why crisis communications matters <ul><li>Current operational context in Sri Lanka </li></ul><ul><li>NGO hostile media, government </li></ul><ul><li>Panic exacerbates the problem, as does a lack of planning </li></ul><ul><li>Lives may be at risk </li></ul><ul><li>Fallout can affect entire sector </li></ul>
  4. 4. Common Sense Guidelines <ul><li>Anticipate </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Articulate & Communicate </li></ul><ul><li>Do the right thing, and be seen to be doing it </li></ul><ul><li>Be aggressive & open </li></ul><ul><li>No “no comment” (gives the impression that you have something to hide) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Common Sense Guidelines <ul><li>Monitor media - esp. what’s important in your work (how it is reported, by whom, how often, qualitative as well as quantitative, ask around, read online as well as mainstream) </li></ul><ul><li>Engage with journalists - but not with a view to buy them. Careful, honest discussion. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember - off the record usually doesn’t work in SL! </li></ul><ul><li>Media reports - CPA (PCI), FMM media reports, market research </li></ul>
  6. 6. Common Sense Guidelines <ul><li>Try to understand, then respond. </li></ul><ul><li>No knee jerk reactions, no set pieces, no stock comments </li></ul><ul><li>Train personnel - the media WILL get answers, make sure they are YOURS </li></ul><ul><li>Brief partners and stakeholders, keep them in the loop as much as you can </li></ul>
  7. 7. Media: Friend or Foe? <ul><li>Neither - they are impartial, and have to be </li></ul><ul><li>In reality, they are not impartial </li></ul><ul><li>Media is intensely oppositional </li></ul><ul><li>Media shapes public opinion - “terrorists”, “pariah”, “LTTE sympathiser”, “NGO crow”, “Dollar crow”, “unpatriotic”, “traitor” </li></ul><ul><li>Regular interaction with media as opposed to response driven interactions - put situation reports, updates on work, personal reflections, positive human interest stories </li></ul><ul><li>Engage! (and keep a record of all interactions…) </li></ul>
  8. 8. First 24 hours <ul><li>Create an operations centre - hotline, key personnel, equipment, access, lines of communication, trust and independence </li></ul><ul><li>Understand the issue, recognise the positions - address the issue </li></ul><ul><li>Gear up partners to respond, and encourage them to issue statements and activate their own PR, media strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Keep in mind the vernacular media - translation vital, and needs to be accurate </li></ul>
  9. 9. First 24 hours <ul><li>Communicate: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Core values (vision, mission) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>History </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reputation (partnerships, collaboratives) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The reasons behind the action (why it is important) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Safeguards taken and due diligence measures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Key message </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Admit any wrongdoing AND what measures will be taken for redress, within what time frame, and led by whom </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contact details (tel / mobile / fax / email / webpage) </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Do you respond at all? <ul><li>Will it blow over? </li></ul><ul><li>Crisis vs. bad / negative publicity </li></ul><ul><li>Respond accordingly - response based on media monitoring, consulting partners, and media / communications team within the organisation </li></ul>
  11. 11. More resources <ul><li>Voices of Reconciliation programme: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Crisis Communications resources: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Access to a Voice: Communications Planning for Civil Society and Community-Based Organisations , a comprehensive handbook on communications strategies for NGOs, CBOs and CSOs, can be found here - </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New media - Groundviews - (blogs) and VOR Radio - (podcasts) </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Thank you