Wednesday, September 24, 2014

After the crisis, good communications practices are still a must

The "keystone kops awards" for incompetence in the categories of operational screw ups and communications failures ( I just created this "recognition") go to the police agencies involved in the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri. I've written a couple of blog posts on the total lack of crisis/incident communications foresight and good practices throughout the protests and police operations.

You would think now, that after some reflection ( I wish ! ) and much criticism from all corners (including police organizations/leaders), that communications after the protests would improve. But no, apparently, the St Louis County PD thinks it's a beacon of solid crisis comms. Judge for yourself:

How can they get the tone so wrong? Not very far from making the whole Michael Brown incident and its aftermath a comical footnote ... Shows a complete lack of respect for the community.

Besides, from a comms professional point of view, it stinks of a long dead approach to media ...something out of the 1980s ... where reporters could be "handled" ... "corralled" ... and should always be treated with scorn or at least some antipathy ...

The outlook on media relations and how the St Louis County PD position their "media training" is blatantly outdated and borders on the plain stupid. Their misstep has not gone unnoticed.  My good friend Gerald Baron has also noted the disrespectful undertone (if not outright racism) of the whole initiative.

Truth is ... legacy media can be a powerful ally when treated as a partner ... Modern police chiefs get that ... 

Also, how can you take seriously any law enforcement organization, one that has just gone through such an intense period of scrutiny from the public and the media and one that DOES NOT mention social networks and the role they now play in incident communications?

It's the whole "head in the sand" strategy ... Twitter and Instagram, Livestream and Ustream are all going away ... right ?

There are just no words ... And frankly, what can an organization that treats media, protesters and its own citizens so poorly in front of the whole world ... possibly have anything to teach anyone ?

Maybe, they're going for a whole new way of dealing with the media ...
First, try to limit their ability to do their job .... shoot them with rubber bullets and gas them if that fails:

Second, just ignore the media ... especially when you're parading like some conquering hero down the streets you're "clearing" of the riffraff ... and if they persist (won't they learn ? ) ... just arrest them (because being asked questions when you're posturing is so annoying ... and a threat to public safety):

The third element of this new media relations strategy by police in the Ferguson area is ... if you're not sure who's media ...or just a blogger ... or some guy live tweeting or streaming your actions to safeguard democracy in the heart of America ... just threaten to shoot them ... and them tell to "eff off" when challenged on that:

The only media relations training these bozos are able to provide is " do the exact opposite of what we do and say ..."

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