Thursday, July 21, 2011

Five failure points in emergency information and crisis communications response

Here's my top five failure points for crisis communications and emergency information:

  1. Being unprepared: having no plan or ignoring your plan ... although sticking to an unworkable plan can also mean doom ... i like the old adage: "failure to plan = plan to fail" ... Having no procedures in place, no pre-approved messaging often means unorganized, ill-advised improvisation which leaves to a lack of strategic vision.
  2. Weak leadership: weak leaders are indecisive ... push everything "upstairs", make no stand when they're facing a directive that is obviously misguided. Weak leaders don't grasp the "big picture" and ignore established principles of good crisis communications practices ... Worse, they focus on process rather than on people ...
  3. Political or Senior Executive interference: micro-management leads to complacency, a lack of innovation and mediocrity. Micro-managers and political staffers get involved in operational details they shouldn't worry about and insists on an approvals process that handicap any hope for a successful communications response.
  4. Lack of collaboration and outreach: ignoring key stakeholders means building a tall, empty silo. Shunning joint efforts, not maximizing your reach and not establishing solid relationships, in favour of a "go alone", "we have our own agenda" approach, leads to fragmented, uncoordinated emergency information which serves no audience well.
  5. Lack of social media and web presence ... finally, we get to it ... a favourite "rant" of mine: you need to occupy the public space and move at the speed of your audiences. Social media and constant web updates allow you to do that. Putting obstacles in that process hurt your image. Having a stale website in a crisis shows incompetence or a blissful ignorance of your audience's needs. You need to stick to a posting schedule and have a constant stream of social media posts during a crisis to show you're active. 
In conclusion, operating under any of the five points above seriously hampers your response. Dealing with more than one is a critical wound ... having to suffer under more than two means you are irrelevant ... that is DEATH for crisis comms ....

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