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Crisis communication

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Crisis Communication:Taking Strategic Lead During Crisis

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Crisis communication

  1. 1. CRISIS COMMUNICATION: Taking Strategic Lead During Crisis Dr.Arivalan.PhD
  2. 2. Note to the participants:  This workshop shall be customized to suit the participants’ real life applications. Therefore some slides shall be skipped intentionally. However the skipped slides could be used as further references after this workshop.
  3. 3. 3
  4. 4. CRISIS MANAGEMENT Key issues
  5. 5. Crisis Management Crisis management is the process by which an organization deals with a major unpredictable event that threatens to harm the organization, its stakeholders, or the general public
  6. 6. Elements of a Crisis Three elements are common to most definitions of crisis: (a)a threat to the organization, (b) the element of surprise, (c)a short decision time (d)a need for change
  7. 7. Crisis management - 1 Crisis management consists of: Methods used to respond to both the reality and perception of crises Establishing metrics to define what scenarios constitute a crisis and should consequently trigger the necessary response mechanisms. Communication that occurs within the response phase of emergency management scenarios
  8. 8. Crisis Management - 2 The credibility and reputation of organizations is heavily influenced by the perception of their responses during crisis situations
  9. 9. Crisis Management - 3 * respond to a crisis in a timely fashion makes for a challenge in businesses. * must be open and consistent communication throughout the hierarchy to contribute to a successful crisis communication process.
  10. 10. Purpose of crisis management:  Prevention  Survival  Successful outcomes
  11. 11. 11 Communication Mechanisms during a Crisis:  Inside Alert  News Releases  Media Briefings and News Conferences  World Wide Web  Voice Mail  Flyers  Housing Residential Staff  Cable Information Channel  Phone Bank  Hotline
  12. 12. Common features of a crisis:  The situation materialises unexpectedly  Decisions are required urgently  Time is short  Specific threats are identified  Urgent demands for information are received  There is sense of loss of control  Pressures build over time  Routine business become increasingly difficult  Demands are made to identify someone to blame  Outsiders take an unaccustomed interest  Reputation suffers  Communications are increasingly difficult to manage
  13. 13. Amanda Vermeulen July 2006 "I think the best way to put it is that there were very poor communications at the time. We weren't able to get clear, accurate information out to the media and the public. ... And at that point the media went to other sources for their information." Tom Kauffman Three Mile Island, 28 March 1979
  14. 14. Amanda Vermeulen July 2006  A relatively minor malfunction in the secondary cooling circuit caused the temperature in the primary coolant to rise  The reactor shut down automatically  A relief valve failed to close, but instrumentation didn’t reveal it  So much of the primary coolant drained away that the reactor core overheated  The core suffered severe damage  BUT only a small amount of radioactive material was released Three Mile Island
  15. 15. Amanda Vermeulen July 2006 Three Mile Island The communication mistakes:  Operator Metropolitan Edison (MetEd) released little information in the first hours and days  First news conference was only 12 hours after the accident but news had already leaked  MetEd official admitted they knew radioactive particles were entering the atmosphere as even as they held the press conference. But a decision was taken NOT to inform media and public.  A company official later admitted he did not mention any releases into the environment "because he had not been asked directly.”
  16. 16. Amanda Vermeulen July 2006 Three Mile Island The communication mistakes:  MetEd chose to withhold information that was perceived as being in the “vital interests” of the general public once it finally became available  What appeared in the media was "informed speculation," often from sources in the antinuclear movement and often of an alarmist character  the public was unable to determine its accuracy  the media had not reported on nuclear accidents before so had little experience in verifying the accuracy  this led to widespread confusion and long-term distrust of the nuclear energy industry
  17. 17. Types of Crises  Natural disasters  Malevolence  Technical breakdowns  Human breakdowns  Challenges  Mega-damage  Organizational misdeeds  Workplace violence  Rumors
  18. 18. Three Categories of Crisis • Victim crises: very weak crisis responsibility. • Accident crises: minimal crisis responsibility. • Intentional crises: strong crisis responsibility.
  19. 19. Victim Crises • Natural disasters: acts of nature such as tornadoes or earthquakes. • Rumors: false and damaging information being circulated about your organization. • Workplace violence: attack by former or current employee on current employees on-site. • Product tampering/malevolence: external agent causes damage to the organization.
  20. 20. Accidental • Challenges: stakeholders claim that the organization is operating in an inappropriate manner. • Technical error accidents: equipment or technology failure that causes an industrial accident. • Technical error product harm: equipment or technology failure that causes a product to be defective or potentially harmful.
  21. 21. Preventable Crises Human-error accidents: industrial accident caused by human error. Human-error product harm: product is defective or potentially harmful because of human error. Organizational misdeed: management actions that put stakeholders at risk and/or violate the law.
  22. 22. Crisis Management Types of crises of organizational misdeeds: - crises of skewed management values - crises of deception - crises of management misconduct.
  23. 23. Contingency Planning • Plan in advance • Rehearse via simulation • Stipulate who the spokesperson is • Speed and efficiency in response to crisis • Offer accurate information or it will backfire • Plan offers info and guidance to help decision makers deal with long-term effects of decisions
  24. 24. Role of apologies in crisis management • Controversial - for fear of legal outcomes • Evidence says that a compensation and sympathy are effective • True contrition includes sympathy for victims and offers of compensation to offset losses or suffering
  25. 25. Common features of a crisis:  The situation materialises unexpectedly  Decisions are required urgently  Time is short  Specific threats are identified  Urgent demands for information are received  There is sense of loss of control  Pressures build over time  Routine business become increasingly difficult  Demands are made to identify someone to blame  Outsiders take an unaccustomed interest  Reputation suffers  Communications are increasingly difficult to manage
  26. 26. Amanda Vermeulen July 2006 Russian submarine Kursk sinks, all souls are lost. President Vladimir Putin is slow to react, remaining at his holiday home in Sochi for six days. The Kursk
  27. 27.  While on a naval exercise, the Kursk sinks in the Barents Sea on 12 August 2000, trapping the crew  The navy only makes an announcement the following day  A rescue is only mounted on 14 August  Russia asks for international help on 16 August  Putin returns from vacation on 18 August, six days after the sinking  Putin meets the families of the Kursk’s crew on 22 August, admitting to a “feeling of guilt and responsibility”, but attacks the media for making political capital out of the disaster on TV. The Kursk
  28. 28. The communication mistakes:  All information was released at navy base so media were effectively locked out  Navy withheld much information, forcing media to ‘bribe’ officials for crew list  Sensational footage of mother of one of the crew being ‘sedated’ against her will by officials  Government press officials reacted extremely slowly  Shooting the messenger The Kursk
  29. 29. Three criteria of success: Has organisational capacity been restored? Have losses been minimised? Have lessons been learned?
  30. 30. 31 How Do We Communicate?
  31. 31. 32 Myths (Chess et al. 1988) Myth: We don't have enough time and resources to have a risk communication program. Action: Train all your staff to communicate more effectively. Plan projects to include time to involve the public.
  32. 32. 33 Myths (Chess et al. 1988) Myth: Telling the public about a risk is more likely to unduly alarm people than keeping quiet. Action: Decrease potential for alarm by giving people a chance to express their concerns.
  33. 33. 34 Myths (Chess et al. 1988) Myth: Communication is less important than education. If people knew the true risks, they would refuse to accept them. Action: Pay as much attention to your process for dealing with people as you do to explaining the data.
  34. 34. 35 Myths (Chess et al. 1988) Myth: We shouldn't go to the public until we have solutions to environmental health problems. Action: Release and discuss information about risk management options and involve communities in strategies in which they have a stake.
  35. 35. 36 Myths (Chess et al. 1988) Myth: These issues are too difficult for the public to understand. Action: Separate public disagreement with your policies from misunderstanding of the highly technical issues.
  36. 36. 37 Myths (Chess et al. 1988) Myth: Technical decisions should be left in the hands of technical people. Action: Provide the public with information. Listen to community concerns. Involve staff with diverse backgrounds in developing policy.
  37. 37. 38 Myths (Chess et al. 1988) Myth: Risk communication is not my job. Action: As a public servant, you have a responsibility to the public. Learn to integrate communication into your job and help others do the same.
  38. 38. 39 Myths (Chess et al. 1988) Myth: If we give them an inch, they'll take a mile. Action: If you listen to people when they are asking for inches, they are less likely to demand miles. Avoid the battleground. Involve people early and often.
  39. 39. 40 Myths (Chess et al. 1988) Myth: If we listen to the public, we will devote scarce resources to issues that are not a great threat to public health. Action: Listen early to avoid controversy and the potential for disproportionate attention to lesser issues.
  40. 40. 41 Myths (Chess et al. 1988) Myth: Activist groups are responsible for stirring up unwarranted concerns. Action: Activists help to focus public anger. Many environmental groups are reasonable and responsible. Work with groups rather than against them.
  41. 41. 42 Develop a Plan Anticipate potential questions Prepare accurate, understandable, and consistent messages PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
  42. 42. 43
  43. 43. 44
  44. 44. 45 Goal #1: Ease concern to necessary levels Saying “don’t panic” will not allay fears: you must provide clear indication of why they shouldn’t worry Example: “The risk is low” or “the disease is treatable” If threat is real and action is required, don’t encourage complacency
  45. 45. 46 Goal # 2: Give guidance Give clear instructions on what precautions to take Provide a list of symptoms to look for in themselves and others Suggest when to call a physician Giving ACTION items to public provides comfort and detracts from focus on panic EXAMPLE: US Duct tape Campaign
  46. 46. 47 Proper Body Language is Essential Maintain good eye contact Do not cross your arms otherwise you could appear defensive or uninterested Resting your head in your hands makes you look tired or bored Watch your tone of voice a loud or high pitch voice can suggest hostility or nervousness
  47. 47. 48 Seven Cardinal Rules of Risk Communication (Covello and Allen, 1988) Accept and involve the public as a partner Plan carefully and evaluate your efforts Listen to the Public’s specific concerns Be honest, frank, and open Work with other credible sources Meet the needs of the media Speak clearly and with compassion
  48. 48. Company Resources/Functions Information Technology Security Legal Environment, Health & Safety Operations Finance & Accounting TEAM HR/Communications (incl. public affairs)
  49. 49. 5/8/2015 59 Crisis Communication “A crisis is unpredictable but not unexpected” - Timothy Combs
  50. 50. Emergency Personnel Team Spokesperson (1-2) Phone team Researcher and writer Business continuity Decision maker Legal council, if applicable
  51. 51. Notification Procedures 1. Emergency Personnel Team 2. Board of Directors 3. Employees 4. Members 5. Other Stakeholders
  52. 52. Communication Procedures 1. Platform 2. Priority 3. Policy
  53. 53. RESPONSE Emergency Notification Gathering Information Releasing Information  Stages of Crisis
  54. 54. 5/8/2015 64 1A. Assessing situation Evaluate issues in two dimensions likelihood impact Evaluate risks with risk mgt. grid Evaluate relational threats Power(Leverage) Legitimacy (Value driven) Willingness (Desire for action
  55. 55. 5/8/2015 65 Assessing cont. RelationshipsRisks Issues •Scenarios •Rankings •ROTs HistoryIntuitions
  56. 56. 5/8/2015 66 Assessing cont.  Historical Types of Crises Natural disasters Malevolence (kidnapping, product tampering, terrorism etc. ) Technical breakdowns Human breakdowns  Challenges (boycotts, strikes, lawsuits, government actions)  Megadamage (oil spills, radioactivity)  Organ. Misdeeds  Workplace violence  Rumors
  57. 57. 5/8/2015 67 2B. Designing Tools & Systems Select Crisis Management Team Select Spokespersons Develop Crisis Management Plan Prepare Crisis Communication System
  58. 58. 5 communication failures that kill operational success 1. Mixed messages from multiple experts 2. Information released late 3. Paternalistic attitudes 4. Not countering rumors and myths in real-time 5. Public power struggles and confusion
  59. 59. Messages and Audiences
  60. 60. What the Public Will Ask First Are my family and I safe? What have you found that may affect me? What can I do to protect myself and my family? Who caused this? Can you fix it?
  61. 61. What the Media Will Ask First What happened? Who is in charge? Has this been contained? Are victims being helped? What can we expect? What should we do? Why did this happen? Did you have forewarning?
  62. 62. Writing for the Media During a Crisis The pressure will be tremendous from all quarters. It must be fast and accurate. It’s like cooking a turkey when people are starving. If information isn’t finalized, explain the process.
  63. 63. Public Information Release What to release When to release How to release Where to release Who to release Why release
  64. 64. Nine Steps of Crisis Response 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Crisis Occurs Verify situation Conduct notification Conduct assessment (activate crisis plan) Organize assignments Prepare information and obtain approvals Release information to media, public, partners through arranged channels Obtain feedback and conduct crisis evaluation Conduct public education Monitor events
  65. 65. 5 communication steps that boost operational success 1. Execute a solid communication plan 2. Be the first source for information 3. Express empathy early 4. Show competence and expertise 5. Remain honest and open
  66. 66. 5/8/2015 76 Selecting the CMT  Skills of the spokesperson Appear pleasant on camera (visual, nonverbal) Answer questions effectively Don’t argue with reporters Avoid “no comment” comment (65% believe “no comment” = “guilty” Challenge incorrect information Assess assumptions of questions Legitimize Present information clearly  Avoid jargon  Provide structure
  67. 67. 5/8/2015 77 Develop Crisis Management Plan What is it? A potential action plan Used during the crisis Focuses on “how-to” What it is not? Overly detailed Rigid
  68. 68. Prepare Information and Obtain Approvals Develop message. Identify audiences. What do media want to know? Show empathy. What is the organization’s response? Identify action steps for public. Execute the approval process from the plan.
  69. 69. Need More Breathing Room? Response to Inquiries (you are authorized to give out the following information) Date: __________ Time: __________ Approved by: ___________________________________________ This is an evolving emergency and I know that, just like we do, you want as much information as possible right now. While we work to get your questions answered as quickly as possible, I want to tell you what we can confirm right now: At approximately, ________ (time), a (brief description of what happened) ____________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________. At this point, we do not know the number of (persons ill, persons exposed, injuries, deaths, etc.). We have a system (plan, procedure, operation) in place for just such an emergency and we are being assisted by (police, FBI, EOC) as part of that plan. The situation is (under)(not yet under) control, and we are working with (local, State, Federal) authorities to (e.g., contain this situation, determine how this happened, determine what actions may be needed by individuals and the community to prevent this from happening again). We will continue to gather information and release it to you as soon as possible. I will be back to you within (amount of time, 2 hours or less) to give you an update. As soon as we have more confirmed information, it will be provided. We ask for your patience as we respond to this emergency. Try this for an initial press statement
  70. 70. 5/8/2015 80 Selecting Spokespersons Principle - “One voice is more important than one person” Role - Manage the accuracy & consistency of the messages coming from the organization Communication should be guided by the 5 C’s: Concern, clarity, control, confidence, & competence
  71. 71. 5/8/2015 81 Prepare Crisis Communication System Physical setup Prepare tools Intranet Internet Phones Prepare team
  72. 72. Public Information Release Select the appropriate channels of communication and apply them: Simply Timely Accurately Repeatedly Credibly Consistently
  73. 73. Public Information Release Continue to monitor for feedback Execute planned steps with stakeholders Reassess these elements throughout the event
  74. 74. Obtain Feedback and Conduct Crisis Evaluation Conduct response evaluation Analyze feedback from customers Analyze media coverage Conduct a hot wash Develop a SWOT Share with leadership Revise crisis plans
  75. 75. Conduct Public Education (Post-event) Highlight related public health issues Consider audiences not directly involved in the crisis Institutionalize crisis materials
  76. 76. 5/8/2015 86 Cont. 5 - managing post-crisis Assessing effectiveness Examine records Look at phases of crisis Determine changes
  77. 77. Additional Notes
  78. 78. Emergency Risk Communication Principles Consider the “what if” questions.
  79. 79. Spokesperson Recommendations Stay within the scope of your responsibility Tell the truth Follow up on issues Expect criticism
  80. 80. Your Interview Rights Know who will do the interview Know and limit the interview to agreed subjects Set limits on time and format Ask who else will be or has been interviewed Decline to be interviewed Decline to answer a question
  81. 81. You Do Not Have the Right To: Embarrass or argue with a reporter Demand that your remarks not be edited Demand the opportunity to edit the piece Insist that an adversary not be interviewed Lie Demand that an answer you’ve given not be used
  82. 82. Sensational or Unrelated Questions “Bridges” back to what you want to say: “What I think you are really asking is . . .” “The overall issue is . . .” “What’s important to remember is . . .” “It’s our policy to not discuss [topic], but what I can tell you . . .”
  83. 83. Effective Nonverbal Communication Do maintain eye contact Do maintain an open posture Do not retreat behind physical barriers such as podiums or tables Do not frown or show anger or disbelief through facial expression Do not dress in a way that emphasizes the differences between you and your audience
  84. 84. Grief in context Circumstances of the death Nature of the relationship Experienced loss before Any secondary losses
  85. 85. Case Study: St. PJs Children’s Home BJ Mamuzic, Executive Director Children from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compound in Texas became residents at the home. Key Learnings: •Connect with like agencies •Learn from experts •Give the board something to say •Designate who will communicate •Don’t underestimate volume •Know players before crisis
  86. 86. After-School Program Employee Charged with Sexual Assault of a Child An employee at the Boys and Girls Club was arrested today as he worked and charged with sexual assault and indecency with a child. The employee underwent a background check when hired and passed it. He has also never had any disciplinary problems. The child in the case was a 10-year-old girl who told her parents about the assault, which allegedly occurred a the center. Her parent then called the police. A few hours after the arrest, concerned parents, who have heard the initial reports through the grapevine start to arrive and angrily demand answers as to how this could have happened. Taken from an amalgamation of real incidents in schools
  87. 87. Child Dies in After School Program You are the executive director of a Girls and Boys Club. One of your kids who comes on a regular basis has some special needs but has never been disruptive. Today when he arrived after school, he seemed troubled and incoherent. He started to bang his head against the wall, and while you called 911 support, one of your male staff members held him down to keep him from hurting himself and others. While waiting for emergency personnel, the worker realized the boy was not breathing. He started to administer CPR and you called emergency services back to apprise them of the situation. Once EMTs arrived they continued acute care, but the child did not survive. The cause of death is unknown. Taken from real incident in San Antonio, SW Mental Health Center
  88. 88. Shooter Enters Boys and Girls Club, Kills 2 and Injures 5 A gunman has entered your building and killed one employee, one child and has injured two more employees and three students. The scene is chaos, and your office is being cordoned off by the police as a crime scene. You are not allowed to return to get anything. You are not injured, but two of your crisis team are, and you are already getting calls from media on your cell phone, which thankfully was on your person when the shootings began. You have no idea who the shooter was, but the police are starting to interview witnesses and staff.

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