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Crisis Communication

Maj. John W. Fuld, Ph.D.

Objective • Explain the public affairs role in crisis operations

Overview • • • • • Define issue, emergency and crisis Define the three types of crises How to recognize a communication crisis Preparing for a crisis and reputation management PA role in crisis communication

Define Issue, Emergency and Crisis • Issue: – Matter in dispute, meaning there are two or more conflicting points of view on the subject – Most develop over time – Generally see them coming, giving time to prepare – Precise beginning or ending is difficult

Define Issue, Emergency and Crisis • Emergency – Sudden, usually unexpected occurrence – Requires prompt action and communication – Most have a well-defined starting time and date

Define Issue, Emergency and Crisis • Crisis: – Stage at which the reaction to an issue or incident determines the future of a person or organization – Major turning point in the life of an organization – Tough recognizing the point you have a crisis

Define the three types of crises • Types of crises: 1. Immediate - Fort Hood, Hurricane Katrina 2. Emerging – military academy sexual harassment 3. Sustained – common in corporate world, Proctor & Gamble logo

How to recognize a communication crisis • • • • Is your organization's reputation in danger?

Are many “publics” or groups seeking information? Are you losing control of information flow?

Has your organization adopted a siege mentality?

How to recognize a communication crises • Seven common mistakes: – Hesitation: Delay due to uncertainty of mind or fear.

– Obfuscation: To make so confused or opaque as to be difficult to perceive or understand – Retaliation: Act of retaliating; return of like for like – Prevarication or equivocation: Speak falsely or misleadingly; lie. – Pontification: Express opinions in a dogmatic way – Confrontation: Discord or clash of opinions – Litigation: To engage in legal proceedings.

Preparing for a crisis and reputation management • Planning: – Identify things that can go wrong; assess vulnerabilities.

– Draft questions, answers, and resolutions for each potential crisis scenario. – Focus on what to do and what to say.

– Develop a strategy to contain and counteract.

– Put your plan on paper.

Preparing for a crisis and reputation management • Training – Exercise high-risk activities – Brief likely scenarios during training – Share plan with media – Review plan

PA role in crisis communication

• Three primary objectives : 1. Retain public confidence in our organization. 2. Preserve good media and community relations.

3. Protect and promote the welfare of C.A.P.

PA role in crisis communication

• Basic steps to achieve your objectives: –

Get the facts

Get them straight

Get the facts to higher headquarters

Know who will speak on behalf of the organization

Anticipate the media will be there

Treat media fairly

Communicate with your internal audience

PA role in crisis communication

• Basic steps to achieve your objectives: (cont.) –

Get it out

• Use your plan for using your website • Release of names and other information was covered in the guidelines for release class • Questions to expect

PA role in crisis communication

• Immediate considerations – Secure information as needed – Release information – Provide media access to the scene – Safety of news media representatives – Security of the scene – Understanding of civilian or military jurisdiction – Restricting media access to a site

Crisis Communication