In 2016 Annual Conference, Association News, Dick Pope/Polk County Chapter, FPRA Blog, Professional Development

Blogger: Erin Knothe (Dick Pope/Polk County)

Five Key Tools for Surviving the Modern Crisis
Presented by: Ike Pigott, Consultant, Positive Position Media Consulting

In his presentation, Five Key Tools for Surviving the Modern Crisis, Ike Pigott discussed how he discovered his gift was in helping people tell their stories better. There is no true special training or school for dealing with a crisis in your organization. Your experience and your knowledge of the organization is critical to survival, as well as knowing what outcomes you want.

Instead of five key tools, Ike shared six.

Definition

A crisis is when your organization’s reputation is at stake because of an action you did or didn’t take and public perception is negative. Similarly, a definition from the book, Overdrive, defines a crisis as a violation of your organizational vision. It’s something that violates the promises of your brand. Someone saying something nasty on Twitter is not a crisis, so don’t bring out a full scale crisis communication plan every time.

Expectations

Make sure your organization’s leaders know:

  • You are not a miracle worker.

  • Your organization will not come out unscathed. One of the only reasons why someone stops talking about you is because they’re talking about the next scandal. You will still have a scar from the situation, but you survived.

  • Your goal is to be in as positive a position as possible at the end of the day.

Triage

Two types of triage:

  • Assessing the crisis itself – Set expectations for the future so your leadership can understand why you need to take the steps you are planning

    • How hard is the hit? (impact)

    • How deep is the wound? (scope)

      • How long will we bleed? (duration)

    • Assessing the feedback – You can’t address everything, so you need to use your time and effort to address the key messages.

      • Who is saying it? Random twitter user vs New York Times journalist (authority)

      • How far is its reach? Something with 1,000 retweets is more likely to be retweeted than a message you’re trying to get out in response. (spread)

      • How virulent is the claim? How likely is it that people will want to share it? People are likely to share bad news as a result of virtue signaling, which is the idea that you want to be seen as serious about a particular topic. Slate Star Codex has an article about the topic. (stickiness)

      • Assessing the feedback is something you can do all the time. Get your leadership used to you using authority, spread and stickiness to judge how to respond to a situation.

Access

  • Who has the final word? Who is going to approve or veto your decisions?

  • Where does the person who does the approving or vetoing sit in a crisis? Your goal is make sure they know they are in the same room. No one is immune in a crisis, so they need to be a part of the process to expedite decisions and know what is going on.

    • Plan your messaging for one hour, eight hours and five years after the crisis hits.

    • Four questions to ask when developing messaging:

      • Who are you talking with?

      • What do you want them to know?

      • How do you want them to feel?

      • What will they do with that? What is their call to action? Understand the good and bad ways people can use the information you give them.

Outsourcing

  • How many personnel do you have trained?

  • How many do you need?

  • Whole functions

    • Who will your vendors be? Determine what information you need to handle and what you can share with someone else.

Some of work that is easier to outsource is monitoring, including traditional, social and internal, or whole functions. Remember that insourcing is an option to quickly get more people working on work that needs to be accomplished.

To give an example of how a crisis can evolve, Ike used an example of a group of people clapping. When it starts, clapping is somewhat chaotic. As it continues, a rhythm develops and everyone will stop around the same time. In the same way, a crisis is chaotic and you are never going to control the conversation. However, you can guide it to an end.

Tempo

  • The Tweet a Minute

    • You don’t have to have a unique tweet every minute. However, you should be retweeting, pointing back to something on your website or commenting back to a reporter every three to four minutes. People will be more likely to sit back and watch instead of trying to fill the void you’re leaving if you don’t say anything.

    • Make sure you don’t get in Twitter jail by tweeting too frequently during a crisis. Ask your twitter representative who you need to let know when you institute your communication plan so you can tweet uninterrupted.

PigottlIke Pigott is a Positive Position Media consultant. After 16 years in broadcast news, the Emmy-winning reporter branched out into crisis and disaster communications. In addition to consulting through Positive Position, Pigott was instrumental in bringing social media to disaster communications for the Red Cross, and works for Alabama Power in media relations and social strategy. He has presented at dozens of conferences in the United States, Canada and Great Britain.

 

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