Dam Safety Presentation


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On September 11, 2007 Dan Keeney, APR was a general session speaker at Dam Safety '07, the annual conference of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. His session, "Dam Safety in the News" looked at the roles and responsibilities of subject matter experts in times of intense scrutiny.

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Dam Safety Presentation

  1. 1. Dam Safety in the News Be Ready for your Close-Up Dam Safety ‘07 September 11, 2007
  2. 2. <ul><li>Almost everyone has preconceptions and prejudices about journalists </li></ul>
  3. 4. Strong Negative Feelings Typical <ul><li>Missed the point </li></ul><ul><li>Got the facts wrong </li></ul><ul><li>Had their idea of the story and fit me into it </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on the negative </li></ul><ul><li>Out to “get” you </li></ul>
  4. 5. Impact of Negative Feelings <ul><li>Can be defensive, suspicious </li></ul><ul><li>Feel as though preparation doesn’t matter </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on the journalist rather than on the audience </li></ul>
  5. 6. Change the Mindset <ul><li>Old : Survive without embarrassing yourself </li></ul><ul><li>New : Accomplish an objective </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Increase awareness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increase understanding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get people to take action </li></ul></ul>
  6. 7. Change the Mindset <ul><li>What would you want the headline to say? </li></ul><ul><li>How would you want the news anchor to lead into the story? </li></ul><ul><li>Write it down! </li></ul>
  7. 8. Crisis Communications Fundamentals For Dam Safety ‘07 Presented September 11, 2007
  8. 9. The Fundamentals <ul><li>The three components of crisis communications are crisis planning, response and recovery </li></ul>
  9. 10. Crisis Planning
  10. 11. Fundamentals: Definition of “Crisis” <ul><li>A crisis is an unexpected and uncontrolled event or series of events that disrupt normal operations for a prolonged period and cause unwanted public scrutiny </li></ul>
  11. 12. Fundamentals: Definition of “Crisis” <ul><li>A crisis always has “victims,” which can be either human or animal. If nobody was vicitimized, it’s not a crisis. </li></ul>
  12. 13. Developing a Crisis Plan that Works <ul><li>“ One of the first things you learn is you have to have a plan in place. It doesn’t matter whether it’s sophisticated or simple – you’ve got to have one. Frankly, the simpler the plan, the better.” </li></ul><ul><li>- Larry Hincker, Virginia Tech </li></ul>
  13. 14. Developing a Crisis Plan that Works <ul><li>“ Most plans I see are convoluted, unrealistic, out-of-date nightmares to interpret and never tested by a drill. Good plans point you in the right direction so you can act fast. If yours doesn’t, throw it out and start over.” </li></ul><ul><li>- Richard Amme </li></ul>
  14. 15. Developing a Crisis Plan that Works <ul><li>Keep it simple </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on functional aspects of response </li></ul><ul><li>Build out crisis infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>Examine and mitigate vulnerabilities </li></ul>
  15. 16. Planning: Keep the Plan Simple <ul><li>The process of planning involves an objective inward-assessment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Examine operations and processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evaluate and catalogue assets </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Good plans can be hundreds of pages </li></ul><ul><li>Better plans are just a few pages </li></ul>
  16. 17. Planning: Functional Aspects of Response <ul><li>Who is on the Response Team and who are their alternates? </li></ul><ul><li>At what point do you activate the Crisis Response Team? </li></ul><ul><li>How can they be reached 24x7? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is spokesperson? </li></ul>
  17. 18. Prioritizing Target Audiences <ul><li>Insiders </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Employees, suppliers, customers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Government </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Local, state and federal regulators and lawmakers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Neighbors </li></ul><ul><li>Media to reach community </li></ul>
  18. 19. Prioritize from the inside out <ul><ul><li>Employees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shareholders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Suppliers, customers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Government </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Local, state and federal regulators and lawmakers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Neighbors </li></ul><ul><li>Media to reach community </li></ul>
  19. 20. Crisis Response
  20. 21. Specifics of Crisis Response <ul><li>Scheduling and adequate staffing can’t be overlooked </li></ul><ul><ul><li>24x7 means 158 hours per week </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be ready for a crush of calls from media, customers and others </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Your infrastructure may not handle the volume, contributing to confusion and perceptions of poor response </li></ul></ul>
  21. 22. In the Media Spotlight: The Critical 10 Minutes <ul><li>Today, everyone with a nice phone can be a “journalist” </li></ul><ul><li>Video and photos can be posted on the Web within minutes </li></ul><ul><li>Speculation has a life of its own, so stating facts can quell rumors </li></ul>
  22. 23. Guiding Principles of Crisis Response <ul><li>Quickly assess situation and lay out options </li></ul><ul><li>Your first concern should be the health and safety of anyone involved </li></ul><ul><li>Express concern and sympathy   </li></ul>
  23. 24. Guiding Principles of Crisis Response <ul><li>If the case, emphasize that there will be a complete investigation and your organization will fully cooperate </li></ul><ul><li>Stick to the facts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on the 5 Ws </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Never guess or speculate about information you don’t know </li></ul>
  24. 25. Guiding Principles of Crisis Response <ul><li>Understand that leadership may be part of problem </li></ul><ul><li>Making a statement quickly can help define the story </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You can’t wait for comprehensive information </li></ul></ul>
  25. 26. Crisis Response Realities <ul><li>In a crisis, confusion and inaccurate information dominate </li></ul><ul><li>The media deals in black and white and simplicity, but a crisis is shades of gray and complexity </li></ul><ul><li>Media will assess blame </li></ul><ul><li>Media often gets information you don’t have </li></ul>
  26. 27. Think Actions Over Words <ul><li>Look for opportunities to exhibit concern and control </li></ul><ul><li>Resist blatant photo ops </li></ul><ul><li>Document your organization’s efforts, but resist the temptation to self-promote too soon </li></ul>
  27. 28. Crisis Recovery
  28. 29. Crisis Recovery: The Crisis Lifecycle Discovery True impact clear Personal stories On to the next story Duration Intensity
  29. 30. Crisis Recovery: The Crisis Lifecycle Discovery True impact clear Personal stories On to the next story Duration Intensity
  30. 31. Examples of Organizations that Recovered Quickly <ul><li>Southwest Airlines – Plane skids off runway </li></ul><ul><li>City of New York – Terrorist attacks </li></ul><ul><li>NASA – Columbia disaster </li></ul><ul><li>Johnson & Johnson – Tylenol tampering </li></ul><ul><li>Pepsi – Syringe hoax </li></ul>
  31. 32. What They Had In Common <ul><li>Visible senior leadership </li></ul><ul><li>Immediate expressions of concern and sympathy </li></ul><ul><li>Rapid unequivocal action in the public’s interest </li></ul>
  32. 33. Organizations that Failed to Recover Quickly <ul><li>Merck – Product recall </li></ul><ul><li>Exxon – Environmental disaster </li></ul><ul><li>Tobacco industry - Lawsuit </li></ul><ul><li>Firestone – Faulty product </li></ul>
  33. 34. What They Had In Common <ul><li>Leadership was late to show </li></ul><ul><li>Slow to express concern or sympathy </li></ul><ul><li>Slow to take definitive action </li></ul><ul><li>Lied and/or stonewalled </li></ul>
  34. 35. Contact: Dan Keeney, APR DPK Public Relations [email_address] Dallas: 214-432-7556 Houston: 832-467-2904 www.dpkpr.com