Sunday, January 10, 2021

8 Tips for Crisis Communicators and PIOs in the era of mistrust

Again, it's been a while. But recent events have spurred a lot of introspection on my part. From the attempted coup in the US to the ongoing pandemic, the task of the crisis communicator or PIO keeps getting harder.

So i thought: why not come up with some tips to share? 

Here we go! 


Develop the "trust" capital your organization will rely on in a crisis:

  • Online brand is built on trust
  • Your online presence is based on your values
  • It will likely be the first point of contact for many stakeholders
Reference: a great book by Melissa Agnes: "How to build an invincible brand in this uncertain world"


Don't let others tell your story! Don't leave space for mistrust to emerge!

  • Be socially convergent: use social and mobile (the tools of the audience!)
  • Follow the four imperatives of incident communications: 
    • Alert and notify
    • Respond under great media/public scrutiny
    • Conduct operational social listening
    • Engage/maintain dialogue
Reference: social convergence and crisis communications presentation

Tip #3: (lack of) SPEED KILLS! 

Immediacy of response is a must: the first voice heard often resonates loudest.

  • Have a solid crisis comms planning process in place and messaging ready!:Based
  • Based on the 5 Ps
Reference: Crisis Communications and message mapping presentation


Become your own broadcaster to talk directly with your audiences

  • invest in the tech and capabilities to produce on-the-spot videos 
  • use livestream whenever possibile
Reference: Tips for the PIO in the age of disinformation


Create networks of agencies, organizations and individuals who are recognized, viewed as trustworthy and have large audiences to help relay your information.


There are five reason why listening is a must: 

  1. validate impact of your organization's messaging
  2. detect rumours that put public safety/security/health at risk
  3. Isolate and respond to calls for help or more info
  4. identify key influencers and potential reputational threats
  5. increase your situational awareness
Reference: Making the case for operational social listening


Maintain that "trust" capital at all costs. Don't engage with every troll but keep track of key trends and conversations that could lead to reputational threats.


Active campaigns to sow mistrust and undermine social cohesion abound. They must be countered with effective, planned responses. Misinformation, non-intentional, can be minimized by sharing and amplifying additional educational information.

There are a few ways that organizations can limit the spread of disinformation.

Some of the ways; 
  • Build alliances ... get help from reputable sources
  • Get a myth buster page going
  • Slap a "LIE" sticker on every egregious posts being shared that impacts your organization.
The job of the crisis communicator or PIO is NOT going to get any easier. We must get savvy and not let our guard down. These tips could help! 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Updating the Crisis or Incident Comms Tool Kit

Okay ... Back again ... Let's get some things out of the way. 

When everything gets boiled down ... there are only three things a good PIO or crisis comms practitioner needs to do at the onset of an incident to communicate effectively: 

  1. Convey you're aware of the situation ...
  2. Say what you're doing about it ...
  3. Indicate how you'll keep informing your audiences ...
All the while doing these three things, realizing you'll be under constant scrutiny from the media, your stakeholders and the public. If you want more on the new incident comms imperatives and social convergence ... here's a full presentation.

Since I first started focusing on social convergence and incident/crisis comms (10 years go now !), two main things have changed:
This evolution means certain things long-taken during incidents need to be reconsidered ... I somewhat indelicately put it this way on Twitter: 

The first one seems self-evident ... the NRA's hold on so many elected officials in the US has made the very phrase "Thoughts and Prayers" a joke

The other one is even worse ... Politicians can't resist a crisis if they think they'll be seen as "leaders" ...but it can often go sideways even when the best intentions are involved. It's so simple for someone to completely derail a photo opp during an emergency of any kind. Why would you invite that kind of trouble?

Make the better choice! Forget those two things ... stick with action ...real, meaningful action. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Crisis comms in the era of untruth ...

Image result for fake news and emergencies

I'm picking up the pen again ( or really  the keyboard ? ) ... Thing is I've missed talking about crisis comms and #smem.  But one thing is bringing me back ... the constant question echoing in my mind: how can an organization become a beacon of trust in an era where truth is now a relative concept? 

In an age where social networks give a platform to uniformed, misleading, moronic points of view, knowing how to reach audiences in a crisis is essential. Unfortunately, social networks are both the threat and the solution ... which means the crisis comms expert or Public Information Officer faces tough choices.

Rational discourse is replaced by online outrage. Passion trumps science. Reason is many shades of a million arguments. 

Bad actors count on that. Countries, organizations and people with agendas that have nothing to do with the common good, are spurring chaos ... spreading hate ... sowing discord in the hopes of weakening a citizen-based, democracy-enhancing debate. It's something the Canadian government is starting to take seriously ...especially in an election year at the federal level.

Some social networks are trying to correct course ... with limited success it seems.

Clearly online literacy training is becoming a must in anyone's education. It's something that applies to everyone ... no matter how old

But what about you? Caught in an emerging crisis or incident ... how do you get a message across to your audiences through all that noise? How can you be heard ... and more importantly, how sure are you that you'll be trusted? The PIO's job is getting a lot harder!

So, how does one win the disinformation war? Here are some thoughts ... and some may appear radical: 

  • don't use the media ... bypass them ... most of the time it's not worth your effort (it pains me to write this as a former CBC/Radio-Canada reporter ...)
  • Yes ... that means using social networks ... Twitter in particular ... (Facebook is now nothing more than a hate/propaganda channel ...being manipulated to weaken democracies everywhere ...they can't even abide by their own weak-ass anti-hate rules ...)
  • build a network of agencies/organizations like yours that can make your messages reach wider audiences when you need to. 
  • amplify that via a loose alliance of "community champions" ... people with a certain following who are respected and whose word matters in your field, your area.

In other words, become your own broadcasters ...use video especially ...put up short posts online ... with 2-3 key messages ...set up a page to debunk rumours ...

Don't play the sucker game of dealing with reporters ... who (if you're in the US in particular ... work for organizations that have a clear agenda ...think Sinclair ....) 

A real useful document by FEMA/DHS and their social media working group is a good place to get additional tools. 

Truth in our society is facing an unrelenting attack ... PIOs and crisis comms practitioners are caught in the fray ... knowing which side are the good guys is getting tougher ...knowing which weapon in your comms arsenal to bring out is also not an easy task.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Two brands did the impossible: unite America !

Some people have their self-righteous heads so far up their @sses, they can't see any other light than their stupidity-induced delusions. In most cases, no idea is too stupid ( think Sharnado, Sharknado 2, Sharknado 3 and so on ... ), so corporate thinking keeps pushing the envelope. But sometimes, rarely, an idea should appear so preposterous as to completely defy common sense.

That apparently was in short supply at Pepsi ... in the most tone deaf ad campaign in history .. they managed to anger just about anyone with a functioning neuron or two. The memes on Twitter were ferocious:

In the first place, WTF were they thinking associating their brand with a Jenner? I mean, there's no more shining example of American success at idiocy ... than the vast ineptitude of all the combined inanities of that family ... Oh, well they saw the light ... and then pulled the plug ... and they apologized.

That's how "adult", "mature" corporations react ... they face things head on and take the right action. And then,. there's United Airlines ...who have managed to make flying coach in the US a blood sport.

The first thing: is do the right thing. You're in the passenger business ... So, maybe, you should have a policy that says if a flight is full we won't bump passengers so our aircrews can fly ... Since you're in the aviation business, you could charter a small plane to get your people to where they need to be ? I mean, if the comfort of passengers is really your main concern (uhm ... what was that thing about girls and leggings recently .. you know we kicked them off the flight because they weren't dressed right ? ). But then again, maybe you're going for a new business model:

Second, don't overbook flights ... I know, there may be a rationale for it ... but it looks bad. And if you're going to have to make amends and offer compensation to passengers who get bumped ... make it attractive ... not a couple hundred ... people value their time more than money ... especially in cramped planes or uncomfortable lounges at airports ...

Finally, if you must, don't send jackbooted thugs to do your dirty business. The police have other heads to crack open !  (nobody gets a pass in this one ... there is NO justification to use force on people who present no threat to others or themselves ... dragging an elderly man down the aisle of a plane ?  takes some brave cops to do that ...)

If you do all those bad things ( and was there ever any doubt that United would commit some other PR or customer relations faux pas ? ) ... then for Pete's sake .... apologize ... quickly, profusely ... and most importantly, sincerely.

What did the United CEO do ? He issued the worst kind of non-apology ... in corporate obfuscating doublespeak ... Much better if he had remained silent ... 

When your apology becomes an issue because it's wrong and blatantly insincere ... you fire your PR/Corp comms head ... you get your head on straight and you start again ... abjectly apologizing again ... not through a statement but maybe via video ...

Oh, and one more thing. You should maybe try to educate your staff about properly addressing customer relations issues ... maybe a memo blaming the victim and justifying violence against a peaceful, elderly passenger will do the trick ! 

Some people say it wasn't really a United flight ... that some other airline was operating that particular plane but if it has your name associated with it : IT'S YOUR BRAND !  

One thing is certain ... United and Pepsi have managed to do something unthinkable until very recently ... to make the Trump White House communications look positively professional and competent ... #alternatefacts Spicey must be happy ! 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Leadership in a crisis in Québec? A snowball's chance in hell !

I am from Montréal ... Even though I now live in Ontario ... Je suis Montréalais ! So, it's with a sense of shame that I must draw attention to the complete clusterf**k of their response to the recent snowstorm. 

Québec and snow ... shouldn't be an issue right ? They knew the big storm was coming ... at least 48 hours before ...if not earlier than that. So what in the hell were they doing during all that time? 

I've sat in provincial level EOCs ... I've been part of command discussions as lead PIO ... I know that in Ontario there are discussions with key parties involved about foreseen hazards such as severe weather and plans to coordinate a possible response. Now, I must wonder what kind of system they have in my province of birth.

Hundreds of drivers left stranded in their cars for 12-13 hours during a very bad storm ... not in the boondocks ... deep in the hinterland ... not even in the outer suburbs ... but in Montreal itself ... 

Elsewhere across Ontario and Québec, we saw huge pileups and even a couple of deaths when workers became stuck in deep drifts in whiteout conditions. In other words, it was a bad storm.

Heroic rescue efforts were deployed to no avail in the case of the deadly incident near Québec City. That storm was just that bad.

But attention needs to be brought to the total lack of preparation by all parties around Montréal. From provincial ministries (Ministry of Public Safety, Ministry of Transportation), first responder agencies and municipal government agencies. I hope many heads roll ... there's just no excuse for that level of incompetence and lack of leadership by senior officials. 

No one said: "Hey, we're taking lead on this ....We'll be prepared!" 

Here's what should have been done: 

  • set up teleconference calls in the days/hours ahead to review planning and interoperability issues (the police called transportation officials more than 100 times with no responses while motorists were stranded ...)
  • Plans should have been aligned and contact established between various command centres ...
  • better still ... a unified command system should have been established ... goddamn it !  train for it ... drill for it ... plan for it ... and effing put it in place when it's time ! 
  • A joint information centre with representatives from all agencies involved should have been created 
  • the JIC should have had an operational social media listening operations in place during the storm to improve overall situational awareness and keep info flowing and respond directly to those who might have been at risk 
It's just not normal to have people stranded in their cars in the second largest city in Canada during a snow storm ... 

What are we ? Texans ? (sorry Texas ... could have been Oklahoma or Arkansas ... I picked you ... you're just bigger ! ) 

I hope a full after-action report leads to improvements ... a full move to the ICS/IMS in Québec and adoption of a unified command posture for big events/incidents. 

But hey, that makes too much sense ... I"m angry en maudit ! 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tips for the PIO in the age of disinformation

It's safe to say we live in "interesting times" as the Chinese cookie proverb goes. The environment for the public information officer (PIO) keeps changing at breakneck speeds. How people consume and share news, how they create their own networks are key elements of that transformation.

Academics and practitioners are offering some hindsight on this change to the role and duties of the PIO. Recent event in the US have exacerbated things. Mistrust, plain lying and active disinformation are present at the highest levels. All this undermines the ability of the Federal government to communicate effectively in any future emergency.

While some things can be adopted from the "Trump" way ... it plays a large role in furthering the credibility and trust gap. And although I've addressed the need for adaptation by PIOs in the recent past, it's time for another look at how we must fulfill our role.

Whether you're a PIO for a public safety agency, a government, an emergency management organization or a hospital (my new role), I modestly offer some tips to help colleagues remain efficient and reach their audiences during a crisis.
Streaming from your EOC might be a good idea
  • Cut through the clutter ... become your own broadcaster  ... when media might be perceived (BTW, not by this former broadcaster) as biased ... you can talk directly to most of your audiences though social networks ... streaming is particularly efficient and gaining in popularity.

  • Be present online at all times ... before,during and after a crisis ... a good way to build confidence ... create your own network of message amplifiers ... a "circle of trust" of sorts ...
  • Stick to facts ... become the "beacon of truth" about your incident ... brand it ! No need to add flourish ... to obfuscate ... to exaggerate ... your actions dictate your comms response. It's simple in reality: emergency comms are about three things: A: tell your audiences what's happening and what you're doing about it ... B: tell them why you're doing it ... C: update 1 and 2 constantly
  • Engage meaningfully ... that means true two-way conversations ... if people don't have a sense they're being heard or even contributing ... they'll disconnect ... social listening brings value to any response ... it's the starting point for dialogue and also enhances your situational awareness.
  • Ignore trolls ... don't dispute alternate facts ... stick to your messaging ... sometimes discretion IS the better part of valour. Some fights are not worth getting into ... if you've followed steps 1 to 4 above chances are you're having a good comms response. Unless misinfo puts lives in danger ... let it go ... people will know where to find the truth.
All this is of course predicated on a socially-convergent outlook by the PIO. A thorough use of social and mobile to get the job done. On top of that, the PIO needs to adhere pretty closely to the four imperatives of a comms response to any incident.

How are you prepared to be heard in the age of disinformation? 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

When the boss is the wrong spokesperson in a crisis

One of the most cited principles of crisis communications is to have the "guy in charge" ... your CEO or senior elected official become the face of your response. Most often this approach will work. People who get to the top drive the agenda, know how to seize an opportunity.

NOTE: skip to bottom to see tips on how to help make that happen

And, there's the other guys (or gals !). The leaders who can't handle a crisis in the right way. When that failure by the CEO become another crisis, things get real dicey for crisis comms practitioners. Their arrogance dooms them to failure because they don't realize they are not prepared or trained in crisis comms.

Few would dispute that the current White House is close to a state of apocalyptic chaos. From a communications perspective, it's one bad day after another. The Press Secretary is a bumbling buffoon ... and today, his boss #POTUS proved again he's totally unhinged and unfit for office. Yet, he's the boss and took his show front stage. 

The reaction was immediate and not flattering

Obviously, the Donald has no ability to stay on message or to look prepared. We shouldn't be surprised. His debates against Hillary Clinton were of the same ilk.

So, if the boss can't be relied on to be prepared for planned events, how can his own people have confidence in how he/she will react in a crisis? Truth is they don't. It's likely the whole thing will be a train wreck.

Which brings me to another boss who made things worse for his company: Edward Burkhardt. One of his train devastated a small Québec town, killing dozens. That's bad enough. His mishandling of the communications aftermath made the pain even more unbearable for residents and those who lost family and friends in the tragedy.

So, what's a communicator to do? Here's what I wrote a few months ago:

Here are five things that can help:
  1. influencing ... know your principal ... understand his/her motivations, demonstrate how your advice can make THEM look better 
  2. coaching ... if you have the experience, you can coach your boss in how to handle the media and other stakeholders in a crisis, how to stick to the message and avoid improvisation
  3. preparing ... if you do your boss justice, you'll have a solid crisis comms plan ready based on various scenarios, snappy key messages for every audience ...
  4. repairing ... if your boss comes across as unprepared (or worse, uncaring) you'll do your best to show empathy, knowledge and optimism ... and not make things worse (see above re: Trump and Pierson)
  5. learning ... you'll use every opportunity to learn from a crisis or even a well handled issue that didn't make it to the crisis stage ... and show your boss how he/she came out a winner ...
And , here are five more tricks you can try:
T: as in Train ... practice, involve senior leadership in drills or mock scenarios
R: as in Rehearse ... improvising at the podium is not a good thing
U: as in Unite ... bringing people together in a crisis is key ... dividing is unproductive
M: as in Moderate ... your CEO's ego by controlling the setting, providing messaging
P: as in Pace ... a marathon press conference = disaster. Parcel out interventions

You still have the choice to bail if the captain keeps steering the ship towards that iceberg ...

Monday, January 30, 2017

A painful goodbye to a friend ...

This blog most often deals with issues related to social media, emergency management and crisis communications. Every so often, I also look at geo-strategic/geo-political issues to give perspective. But most often, I stay the course and relate everything to what i focus on.

But recent events have made even that difficult. 
The news are just astounding. Viewed from Canada, the situation in the US is a bit like seeing your best friend's personality change ... and not for the better. A close buddy who's become withdrawn, moody and lashes out at any perceived slight or injustice. 

I hope I'm wrong but I think our American friends are in for a bitter four years ... a period of chaos from which they may not emerge from ... in the end, that may be EXACTLY what Trump and his neo-nazi gang may be hoping for. This post was scary in its relevance. 

By sowing chaos, spurring protests and causing a general upheaval in the civil process that has marked the US as a beacon of hope for the world, Trump is following a game plan laid out decades ago by fascists of all stripes.

His actions are creating a void ... he's benefiting from recent developments and exploiting trends ... all that in his favour. Let's examine 10 of them : 

  1. the strongman identity ...Only I can fix the mess ... heard throughout the campaign ...and now the environment is being altered to help make any other potential leading figure appear weak. He's the outside fixer whose base would follow just to shake things up ...He's doing it.
  2. Lack of trust ... in government, in the media ... in institutions in general ... This marks a decay in civil responsibility such as voting ... when nothing is trustworthy ... lies become common and all the more believable by many.
  3. Fake news ... or rather interpreted "alternate facts" ... when you minimize the legitimacy of the media ... when you repeat and validate lies ... everything is open to interpretation ... the moral ground becomes a bit muddy ... drain the swamp ? How about making it even more of a morass. 
  4. Propaganda press briefings ... attacking the media is generally a stupid idea ... unless part of a broader de-legitimizing plot to tear down any institution that might rally future opposition or try to see through obfuscation and blatant lies.
  5. Weakening the nation's judiciary ... ignoring court orders suspending an unlawful ban ... for Trump supporters that's just more noise coming out of "activist jurists/courts" that have "undermined" societal values ... read: given people the proper protection they deserve under the Constitution and Bill of Rights ... 
  6. Playing the legislative branch against one another ...GOPs members of Congress have the most part embraced the Trump agenda whole ... most of them save a few decent, statesmen (McCain and others) ... little do they know that they must now tow the Trump line or become irrelevant for Democrats, they now are in a position to be no more than observers bemoaning the lack of civility in the political process ... 
  7. The all-powerful inner circle ... the White House (if not the entire country) is now run by a bunch of sycophantic neo-nazis, profiteers and unscrupulous operatives working at the behest of a literal mad man ... a dangerously paranoid narcissist ...who may very well be a Russian puppet and who can only hear the reality created by those around him ... the civil service is ignored ... so are his own senior cabinet members who might be a bit more sane.
  8. Bannon is really in charge ...think about it ... a washed out former military officer ... an avowed supporter of dictators ... with a history of condoning/promoting hateful points of views ... the éminence grise has in fact a VERY black heart. Enough said about him ... journalists beware ! 
  9. Of the first actions of the new administration was to institute a cull in the senior public service ... way beyond the normal changeover of political appointees ...those with moral spines have been evicted be replaced with more malleable officials. The independence of an effective public service is a building block for trust in government ... now you know why it had to be torn down ... part of the whole plan.
  10. A final observation ... and that's very scary ... the last few years have seen a militarization of police forces across the US the local, state and federal levels, law enforcement agencies now boast full arsenals ... equipment that's often comparable to that of military units ... Trump is now counting on that to help him put down protests ... and perhaps even legitimate rebellions if he pursues an unlawful agenda.

I'm probably overly worried ... and things won't deteriorate ... All I can say is that I hope I'm wrong.
If I'm not, the world will have lost a historical symbol of hope, freedom and opportunity ...and I think that Canada will have to take up even more of that mantle ...

Monday, January 23, 2017

When the spokesperson becomes the story: you have failed!

I have a new favorite hashtag on Twitter : #SpicerFacts ... it's full of witty comments and memes on the astoundingly stupid media relations strategy adopted by the new White House and its Press Secretary, Sean Spicer. 

No matter where you stand on the Trump presidency ... their approach to communications is worrisome and troubling. It's also just plain stupid : 

Here's a few reasons why it's stupid. The new spokesperson: 
  • adopted a combative tone right off the bat 
  • focused on relatively trivial issues (crowd size ? ) instead of laying out a bold vision for a new administration 
  • blatantly lied on facts that are easily verifiable.

 So, Spicer became THE story ... a spokesperson is supposed to be just that ... a mouthpiece relaying key messaging ... the focus should be on the message and not the messenger.

For Spicer, that notion seems lost as he was intent on attacking journalists and news organizations. That approach is still not effective even if they're just using the media as a foil to placate their base. In fact, it was a huge misjudgment.

In an era of low trust (actually almost non-existent for government) ... it's self-defeating because government and media are equally distrusted in the US according to the recent findings published in Edelman's Trust Barometer.

It's also troubling ... worrisome ... perhaps even dangerous ... to adopt such a posture towards the media and a vast segment of the public.

If you have no trust capital will you be able to influence the public and the media when it matters most ... when a crisis or nation-wide disaster hits? 

By degrading any aura of authority the public might perceive, you minimize your ability to influence behaviours, convince the public to take appropriate actions to protect themselves during events/incidents such as a flu pandemic, a dirty bomb explosion or some other terror attack.

It also reflects poorly as President Trump tries to establish his image/public persona as Commander-in-Chief ... (attacking the intel community is not a good way to do that ...) One has to hope that the current or former Marines in his national security team can set him straight ... at least we know THEY are not traitors ... 

No trust in the CinC, no trust in his spokesperson, no trust in his legion of proxies ... no trust anywhere ... but hey, let's keep attacking the media when they question the lies we feed them daily.

Ultimately, this kind of public posture, based on "alternative facts" is doomed to failure or even worse, might cost lives.

One thing though ... you have to be somewhat impressed by the bravado displayed by the Trump gang ...comes from the Fibber-in-Chief himself ... and trickles down ( sorry for the bad mental image that evokes ... ) to his key aides. 

I'm not in the US ...but I wish all my American friends good luck over the next four years ...In fact, we might ALL need it.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Trump's Big Win : 10 lessons for the crisis communicator

A lot has already been said in a political sense about the new President-elect's electoral victory. A lot of humble pie and crow on the menu ... accompanied by many a face-palm.

But I thought there were many lessons that could be learned by those dealing with emergencies .. particularly from the communications point of view: 

  1. Trust data .... but also trust your gut ... in a crisis, use the experience/expertise that has brought you this far ... do not rely entirely on data ... engage with people on the ground to help refine your understanding of a situation
  2. social media might be a very good barometer during a crisis ... monitor social platforms to gauge the mood of your audiences and how your actions are perceived
  3. don't use the legacy media as an intermediary ... Trump is a masterful media manipulator ... yet, they were largely against him and he bypassed the media effectively ... the most of social networks
  4. in the CCO formula ... which stands Compassion, Competence and Optimism ... focus on optimism part ... offer up the idea of change ... especially if the crisis was brought about by some action you may be responsible for ... although overplaying that card can lead to authoritarianism 
  5. Brand your response ... a catchphrase ... a slogan that will convey meaning and a sense of your objective ... most importantly. one that resonates well with big segments of your audiences ... in this case, he tapped into hate, anger and bigotry ... unpleasant but effective nonetheless 
  6. Don't be afraid to be yourself ... speak your mind ... be genuine ... now, perhaps not to the extent to which Donald Trump showed his true self ... but audiences crave personality not a robot or drone during a crisis ...
  7. Keep pounding away with your key messages ... "Crooked Hillary" .... was .... effective ... brought his opponent's key weakness (lack of transparency and honesty) to the fore EVERY TIME he said her name, Effortless ... 
  8. Be convincing ... have an absolute belief in what you're doing ... don't go as far as Trump down the narcissistic path ... but display strength and, when necessary, some humility 
  9. Motivate your staff ... show up in your EOC, crisis cell or boardroom ... Trump rallies were an omen of what was to come ... sustaining the enthusiasm of your staff is key in dealing with any crisis and creating a sense of purpose and unity
    Long lines for a Trump rally
  10. Question yourself all the time ... do any of the normal rule matter in an era of such rapid social and technological changes?  Trump ignored most of the rules associated with traditional campaigns. Have a plan sure ... but be ready to adapt it to new circumstances ... a new environment 
I'm not sure how much America will change ... but i know that only one thing is certain in emergency/crisis management :  change is a constant and will only come at an accelerated pace in the near future. Are you ready ?