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Crisis communications: What to do before, during and after a crisis


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Sherita Coffelt of Los Angeles's Metrolink presented during the May 2017 TCU Nonprofit Communicators Conference.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Crisis communications: What to do before, during and after a crisis

  1. 1. Crisis Communications Non-profit Communicators Conference May 19, 2017
  2. 2. The discussion  Introduction  What is a crisis?  BEFORE  DURING  AFTER
  3. 3. Roll-call You  Communicators?  Administration?  HR?  Marketing?  Government?  Non-profit?  Anyone else? Me  Native Texan  UNT grad (Go Mean Green!)  Spokesperson (PIO) at North Texas Tollway Authority  Director of Public Affairs at Metrolink in Los Angeles  Started working on crises after college  Oil spills  Electric outages  Layoffs
  4. 4. What is a crisis? Natural disasters High profile company issue (external) Terrorism Employee issue
  5. 5. BEFORE – Take advantage of this time to improve performance when a crisis occurs Planning • Incident response plan (agency) • Crisis communications plan • Holding statements • Identify roles and responsibilities • Identify back-up for each role • SOPs for each role • Where you report • Policies (approval policy, media policy, social media policy) Training • Intra-agency • Interagency • Media training • FEMA training • Technology training Materials • Laptops • Power sources • Printers • Hotspots • Contact lists (electronic and hard copies)
  6. 6. DURING – SAFETY FIRST  All actions and communications should support safety.  Implement your plan.  Provide regular, consistent updates to all of your audiences.  Employees, customers, board members, elected officials, etc.  Identify a place where people can go for updates.  Ensure key staff avoids fatigue.  Ensure legal and agency leadership approves all information.  Circulate that information internally DON’T DO Say no comment Say what you know. Even if it is not much. Minimize the impact or deflect Express empathy Lie Show action (what is your company doing?) Speculate Discuss coordination Defend bad policies Provide them info on how they can get more info or assist.
  7. 7. Crisis management in the new media age Information spreads like wild fire. • It is crucial that you coordinate a consistent message. • Empower your employees, stakeholders to act as ambassadors by providing them with accurate info and asking to help disseminate. • Social media policy should give guidance on how to interact. Smart phones means photos and videos WILL surface. • Always agree to “look into” Use social media to: • Provide updates to stakeholders. • Respond to questions/concerns. • Monitor top concerns, key issues (important to report these to leadership) • Quantify customer impact and effectiveness (# of complaints, avg response time, etc) • Tools exist that allow you to manage all account from one platform and offer some metrics.
  8. 8. AFTER  Maintain communications with new stakeholders, followers, etc  Express appreciation to stakeholders (employees, customers, elected officials)  Continue to work with legal to approve communications due to possible lawsuits  Debrief  What went right? What went wrong? How can we improve?
  9. 9. Now is the time to prepare… (Not an endorsement of any one religion over the other…just a lesson in preparation told through a well known story.)
  10. 10. QUESTIONS?