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Communicating in a Crisis


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Communicating in a Crisis

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Communicating in a Crisis

  1. 1. 5 Aug 03 Communicating in a Crisis John McCracken Sydney
  2. 2. Communications in the context of a Crisis Management strategy
  3. 3. What is a Crisis?  A Crisis is an escalating incident that poses a serious threat to the people, operation, viability and/or reputation of an organisation Marsh 3
  4. 4. What is Crisis Management?  Crisis Management is the implementation and management of response, recovery and restoration strategies  These strategies should be implemented with a view to minimising the potential impact an escalating incident can have on an organisation’s people, operation, viability and/or reputation  These actions will assist an organisation to fully recover from such an event Marsh 4
  5. 5. Crisis Management & Communication Project scope/ review Enterprise Value Crisis Management & Communication Training/ Awareness Recovery Strategies Risk Assessment Emergency Response Marsh 5
  6. 6. Communicating in a Crisis  Communicating with stakeholders during a crisis is but one element of crisis management, however it plays a vitally important role: – effective communications during a crisis can minimise potential damage to an organisation’s reputation and therefore it’s long-term viability – ill conceived and poorly executed communications can cause a rapid loss of control of the perceptions of all stakeholders during a crisis Marsh 6
  7. 7. Internal versus external communications strategies and issues
  8. 8. Communications Strategies  Plan for a crisis in advance  Clarify objectives  Identify stakeholders and analyse their needs  Identify the ‘theme’ of key messages to be released  Prepare for likely questions  Identify most effective communications mediums  Appoint official spokesperson(s)  Determine authority protocols for release of information  Agree activity tracking mechanism  Develop records management system Marsh 8
  9. 9. Tips for avoiding common issues  Establish the communications protocols – who is responsible for reporting – what is critical, what is important, what can wait – when / how often to update – what format will it be delivered in  Monitor the communications – check filter points – identify potential bottle necks – log and monitor deadlines / updates – ensure there is a common understanding and agreement Marsh 9
  10. 10. Government and regulators Next of kin / relatives Community Who are the stakeholders? Distributors Board (representing shareholders) Organisation in a crisis Indirect customers Employees Suppliers The media Statutory authorities Direct customers Marsh 10
  11. 11. Internal Stakeholders  Employees  Next of Kin / Relatives  Board  Internal Departments  Joint Venture Parties Marsh 11
  12. 12. Employees  Staff are key stakeholders – keep them informed – release an initial alert – maintian regular updates  Critical Incident Stress Debriefing – those who witness an horrific event – those who are close to the victim – other staff as required Marsh 12
  13. 13. Next of Kin / Relatives  Agree arrangements for visits to notify immediate family, relatives, friends, etc of any workforce fatality or serious injury  Determine the process of dealing with calls and direct contact with the next of kin and/or relatives  Provide processes to deal with expected inquiries including: – accessing records and information – activating a team or location to deal with calls – telephone procedures – methods of dealing with distressed relatives – other information as necessary Marsh 13
  14. 14. Board, Internal Departments, Joint Venture Parties, etc  Ensure pre-determined processes capture communications protocols including: – reporting lines – delegated points of contact – agree communications mechansims – agreed reporting criteria  Ensure an appropriate management structure is implemented and utilised throughout all phases of the crisis Marsh 14
  15. 15. External Stakeholders  Customers, suppliers and distributors  Legal and insurers  Government authorities, regulators, statutory authorities, industry associations - EPA, WorkCover, Consumer Affairs, Unions, etc  Emergency Services  Community Marsh 15
  16. 16. Customers, Suppliers and Distributors  Identify and communicate with: – key customers – key suppliers – transport organisations – alternative suppliers  Clear message on what is happening, what’s been done to rectify, alternative arrangements, etc  Information must be linked to what is being said to media, community and other stakeholders Marsh 16
  17. 17. Marsh 17
  18. 18. Legal and Insurers  Involve legal and insurance advisers early  Log events carefully and ensure they are signed  Collect all information generated and store in a safe place  Ensure legal advisers are involved in any significant investigation Marsh 18
  19. 19. Authorities and Regulators  Ensure you satisfy regulatory reporting requirements  Public Corporations: – deal with political stakeholders & their concerns/issues  Private Corporations: – consider political implications of incidents and the likely responses of Government and Government Authorities  Consider implications on all levels of Government (Local, State & Federal)  If situation is overseas: – consider who and how the organisation will liaise with both indigenous and Local Government(s) Marsh 19
  20. 20. Emergency Services  Ensure there is a clear and defined conduit between the Emergency Services and the organisation  Advise Emergency Services personnel of any potential issues  Ensure that information given by the Emergency Services is communicated to the Crisis Management Team Marsh 20
  21. 21. Community  Address immediate concerns  Use community groups, media and/or emergency services to assist with getting the message out  Keep them regularly informed  Maintain open, honest and ongoing contact  Appoint spokesperson(s) for the organisation  Same rules apply as to media interaction  Remember, your organisation is part of the community and needs their support to continue Marsh 21
  22. 22. Media Interaction
  23. 23. The Media are out there … Like Them Or Not  The Media can be a powerful friend or foe during a Crisis.  The media have the facilities to: – amplify your key facts and information – reach a very wide audience quickly – reach specific or target audiences  All for low or no cost. Marsh 23
  24. 24. Role of the Media  Accepted wisdom: – The Media plays an important role within the local, national and global community:  gather facts and information of community interest  amplify information of interest and concern to the community  provide the community with a common understanding of events Marsh 24
  25. 25. Role of the Media  Gather facts and information of community interest: – All of the above, PROVIDED THAT:  it’s entertaining  it’s ‘newsworthy’ in the view of the audience  it provides a financial return for the media Marsh 25
  26. 26. Remember: Social Amplification of Risk  Activists and the media amplify outrage, they don’t create it, therefore: – pay attention to the outrage where the public is concerned, because outraged people do not listen to data Marsh 26
  27. 27. Types of Media  The types of media to consider utilising during a crisis are: – Print – Radio – Internet – Television Marsh 27
  28. 28. Gaining Control of the Agenda  Use a media communications team  To ensure you are not always reacting to the media: – determine who your audience is – know what the community is asking – determine your key messages – get your messages out fast – stick to your messages – continue to provide accurate and regular information and updates Marsh 28
  29. 29. The Critical Questions  Generally speaking the media and community ask: – what, where, when, why, who, (etc)? – are we safe? – has everything possible been done to care for all those affected? – have you apologised? – what’s being done to prevent it from occurring again? Marsh 29
  30. 30. Ways of Conveying your Message via Media Release  A means, often the first, to state your case  A Media Release : – can be prepared in advance - Holding Statement – must stick to the facts – must convey concern and regret, positively – can allay fears and misinformation – can be used to keep staff & stakeholders informed – should advise if a press conference is to be held and a contact point for the organisation Marsh 30
  31. 31. Fact Sheets/Files  A means of ensuring journalists know what your organisation does.  A Fact Sheet/File: – provides information about the organisation and its activities – can provide supporting background information to Media Releases – gives the media “facts” about you so that the information is correct Marsh 31
  32. 32. Media Conferences  A necessary or prudent action to clarify your position and keep control of the agenda. A Media Conference: – should feature as few spokespersons as practicable, – must be thoroughly prepared and rehearsed, – must be tightly controlled, – should follow an agreed format, – should be recorded, – MUST have key messages. Marsh 32
  33. 33. Lessons for Everyday Communications
  34. 34. Communications are Critical  Write down information  Use active listening skills  Verify data  Don’t be too hasty  Strive to minimise corruption of data  Information is everyone’s responsibility Marsh 34
  35. 35. Communication Elements 3 Major Components:  ‘Technical’ – physical medium; face-to-face, telephone, fax, email, etc  ‘Meaning’ – conveying the desired meaning  ‘Effectiveness’ – how the meaning effects the recipients’ reactions and decisions Marsh 35
  36. 36. Face-to-face Considerations  Researchers1 have shown that in face-to-face communication: – at least 65% of the meaning comes from non-verbal sources – of the remaining 35%, 28% comes from the delivery; tone, pace ,etc – therefore, only 7% comes from the actual words used 1 Braysich, Dr Joseph - University of Western Australia; Alan Pease et al Marsh 36
  37. 37. Conclusion  Communications is a vitally important element of Crisis Management  Failure to communicate with all stakeholders, including the media, during a crisis can ruin the best of reputations and therefore jeopardise an organisation’s long-term viability  Gaining and maintaining control of the Media is critical  Only prior planning can ensure that necessary communication tools are immediately available when required Marsh 37
  38. 38. John McCracken 02 9375 9812 0414 495 922