Ten Lessons for Communicating
                           Through a Crisis

                                         The Am...
2



    Prepare As If Your Future Depends On It – Because It
    Does

       • You need a comprehensive crisis plan befo...
3



    Get It In Writing


       •   Fool-proof instructions
       •   Contact information in one place
       •   Sel...
4



    Practice

      • Full-scale dry run identifies emergencies, weaknesses in
        your plan
      • Include facu...
5



    Communicate with All of Your Constituencies


      • Don’t leave it to the media to communicate the nature of a
...
6



    Don’t Antagonize the Media


      • Understand the job reporters are trying to do – and help
        them do it
...
7



    Lawyers


      • Lawyers often counsel silence – heed them at your peril
      • Involve both your lawyer and yo...
8



    Research- Before, During, and After


       • Understand impact without resorting to guesswork or
         anecd...
9



    Prepare for the Long Haul

       • A crisis rarely comes and goes in a day, week, or month –
         remain vig...
10



     Stick to the Facts- And Tell the Truth


       • Remember the Watergate rule – the cover-up is always
        ...
11



     First Things First

        • Message to key constituencies – remember what’s
          important – the welfare...
12   For More Information




     For More Information, please call or email
     Rodney Ferguson at Lipman Hearne

     ...
Discussion
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Ten Lessons for Communicating Through a Crisis

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First, prepare as if your future depends on it—because it does.

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Ten Lessons for Communicating Through a Crisis

  1. 1. Ten Lessons for Communicating Through a Crisis The American Council on Education February 10, 2008 © Lipman Hearne 2008. This material cannot be copied or reproduced without permission
  2. 2. 2 Prepare As If Your Future Depends On It – Because It Does • You need a comprehensive crisis plan before the crisis happens • Emergency numbers, identified spokespersons • Beepers/pagers/cell phones • Media training for spokesperson and top officials
  3. 3. 3 Get It In Writing • Fool-proof instructions • Contact information in one place • Selectively disseminated • Presented to your Board
  4. 4. 4 Practice • Full-scale dry run identifies emergencies, weaknesses in your plan • Include faculty and parent representative, student representative, Board chair • Create messages around a “real” event to hone responses
  5. 5. 5 Communicate with All of Your Constituencies • Don’t leave it to the media to communicate the nature of a crisis to your own community • Segment and tailor communications to each constituency • Be honest, thorough and human
  6. 6. 6 Don’t Antagonize the Media • Understand the job reporters are trying to do – and help them do it • Stonewalling never works • Reporters appreciate cooperation – and will write accordingly • Don’t overreact when you don’t like what you read – “going to the publisher” is rarely the right response
  7. 7. 7 Lawyers • Lawyers often counsel silence – heed them at your peril • Involve both your lawyer and your communications chief in important deliberations • Disciplined and accurate communications don’t encourage lawsuits – they help prevent them
  8. 8. 8 Research- Before, During, and After • Understand impact without resorting to guesswork or anecdotes • Survey important audiences – donors, volunteers and friends, and general public within a geographic area to gauge impact
  9. 9. 9 Prepare for the Long Haul • A crisis rarely comes and goes in a day, week, or month – remain vigilant, prepared and responsive • Stick to the rules throughout – you can’t unilaterally declare that a crisis is over • Look for ways to turn negatives into positives
  10. 10. 10 Stick to the Facts- And Tell the Truth • Remember the Watergate rule – the cover-up is always worse than the crime • Never speculate about the past or the future • When non-disclosure is required, be honest about that – including the reasons why you can’t respond • Explain why some things (personnel matters, for example) must remain confidential
  11. 11. 11 First Things First • Message to key constituencies – remember what’s important – the welfare of your clients and the integrity of your institution • Always lead with concern and compassion rather than facts and figures • Always be available
  12. 12. 12 For More Information For More Information, please call or email Rodney Ferguson at Lipman Hearne 202-457-8100 rferguson@lipmanhearne.com
  13. 13. Discussion

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