Friday, June 11, 2010

Is it possible to do everything right during a crisis and still fail to attain your communications goals?

This quick post to ask: can you do everything right? Follow all principles of crisis management and communications, and still not get your message across?

I believe we're witnessing a prime example of that with the Deepwater Horizon spill. One of the key leaders in the field of crisis communications is involved with the Unified Command response to this incident and he's getting big doubts about the whole concept despite his belief that they are doing everything according to NIMS/IMS.

When do you shift from a reputation management oriented effort to one that's more like a salvage operation?

How do you step back and analyze the outcomes? Can you identify the gaps, the persisting negative perception among your audiences ... even though you are technically doing a good job because you're fully involved in the Unified Command and tapping into all the inherent strengths of the incident management system?

How can you operate as a PIO within the UC if the different command elements (and especially their own superiors) pay lip service to the whole concept of Unified Command.

When does organizational preservation take precedence over the integrated approach?

I'd submit that in the end ... the strength of the UC is strongly linked to the alignment of objectives by each participant. If that changes, the focus could get lost and the messaging could stop being uniform, coordinated and reflective of a collective effort.

In an era where public perception is critical (for better or worse) to the success of any crisis management endeavour, losing or appearing to lose the confidence of one of the key elements of the unified command, is a death blow.

Can you really continue to work together well at the operational level while the people way up the food chain are engaged in a public battle to lay the blame as far away from their front yard as possible?

That seems to be the case with BP and the Obama administration ... the two key players in the Deepwater Horizon UC ... how long before the discord reaches down to the ops planners ... and incident commanders?

How long can they remain unaffected by the constant bombardment of negative coverage and public perception?

It will be an interesting debrief one day from those involved...

That's assuming that well ever gets capped !

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