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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Occupying the public space

Is there such a thing as a "prime directive" (hello trekkies!) for crisis communications practitioners?

Well, I'd venture to say that in the social media world, there is an absolute need to occupy the public space soon after an incident or crisis occurs. I want to be very careful in how I position my rationale for this ...

First, the old model of uni-directional communications is really out the window ... despite an organization's ability to broadcast a message targeted to a large audience or many audiences, I think that's not just good enough anymore.

With the advent of social media platforms ... the audience can now interact amongst themselves ... so when an incident occurs ... they'll start those dialogues ... I make the argument that you need to join in that conversation or conversations ...

your ability to be heard is critical ... but do it in a participative way... you're not supplanting the information already out there ... rather, you should complement it ...

that's where credibility comes in ... by having a sound crisis comms plan, good social media practices and ongoing web/social media outreach ...you'll already have established your organization's credibility ...

by joining in the fray at the onset of an incident or crisis ... by occupying the public space ... you may provide a necessary counterbalance or element of veracity to the conversation ...

I believe the secret lies in the approach ... a collaborative one ... based on the sharing of information ... of integrating the ongoing dialogue into your crisis response ... that makes the use of an array of channels/social media platforms necessary ...

I'm trying to integrate these principles in my new position ... so far, so good ... lots of understanding and agreement on adopting crisis comms practices, social media outreach, open dialogue from the leadership ... without forgetting more traditional ways of getting our messages out ...

I'd be interested to hear from you on those principles ...

Monday, June 1, 2009

crisis communications approach

I'm a big fan of the message mapping technique developed by Dr Covello of the Center for Risk Communications in New York. I especially likes its science-based approach to crafting key messages that the audience can actually retain during a crisis or emergency ...

I've spoken to people who've used this approach during big events/crisis (9-11) and they told me that message mapping (and in particular, the ability it gave them to anticipate, prepare and practice) was a real key to their successful crisis communications practices ...

Here's a link to an EPA web page on message mapping which itself leads to a fantastic learning tool (a video of Doctor Covello speaking on message mapping and the differences between how our brains function during normal times and emergencies/crises) ... an absolute must read for all communicators ...
http://www.epa.gov/ordnhsrc/news/news040207.html

Now, I'm wondering what kind of techniques are being used out there ... and might be as efficient.

Comments anyone?