Archive for crisis communications Baltimore
Our client AHC, Inc., a developer of affordable housing communities in the Mid-Atlantic region, just completed a revise of its crisis communications plan that focused on streamlining the notification process in the event that a crisis situation occurs.
AHC, Inc. reviews and revises as needed its crisis communications plan on a semi-annual basis to ensure its plan is up to date, relevant and reflects best practices.
However, this review has the added benefit of keeping the plan and the important role it plays in front of its leadership on a regular basis. Is it time to take a look at your company’s plan?
If you went through an expensive planning process that ended up with a bulky three-ring binder that’s now stuck on a shelf, it might have been a huge waste of money if it hasn’t been updated. If the words “Twitter” and “Facebook” aren’t even mentioned, it’s time for a re-fresh.
Today’s crisis communications plans focus less on setting up a media headquarters, holding press briefings and assigning phone tree responsibilities. Instead, your plan needs to incorporate social media so you can monitor and respond quickly – and while mobile – even before you get the first text, Tweet, email or even phone call from the media.
Begin by prioritizing the audience that is impacted the most and then identify the influencer audiences. This exercise should quickly reveal the crisis communications audience strategy as well as options for how best to begin communicating with them.
Additionally, the audience strategy will help to fine tune and customize the crisis messaging so that it is relevant and credible to the target audiences.
An organization’s crisis communications situation is never a single event dealt with by a single activity. Instead, it’s a multifaceted and often complicated set of circumstances requiring a steadfast, consistent and determined execution of activities. But what about the marketing impact of a crisis?
We’ve been reminded of this the past few months while dealing with a client’s crisis communications problems and are just now finalizing a strategy for handling the marketing implications while keeping one eye still focused on the crisis.
The most valuable crisis communications plans are those that help an organization effectively manage the crisis at hand while simultaneously staying connected to its marketplace with relevant brand messaging.
A local hospital is at the beginning of what promises to be a lengthy and costly resolution of a situation involving a prominent physician, many, many of his patients and now, legions of attorneys.
In fairness to the hospital, it is a complicated situation not easily explained and therefore not easily understood by most of us. Additionally, there are many points of view that will be played out in the media for the foreseeable future.
However, based on media coverage thus far, the hospital does not appear to be assertively defining the situation to one physician in one department utilizing one procedure.
If we were asked our opinion on what their crisis communications strategy should be, we would implore them to quickly and decisively place the situation in context of the hospital’s overall reputation. It should then implement an ongoing, focused communications program that defines and defends the institution’s expertise and reputation beyond the boundaries of the current situation, albeit a serious and far-reaching one.
That’s Sawmill Partner Susan Anthony, left, speaking with WMAR-TV Reporter Roosevelt Leftwich yesterday for a story on their evening newscast about Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon. For our national and international readers, the Baltimore mayor was found guilty this week of stealing gift cards that were meant to be distributed to needy children. A crisis PR situation if there ever was one!
The defense team kept Dixon off the witness stand during the trial, and since the jury’s verdict was announced on Wednesday we haven’t heard much from her, other than a few comments outside the courtroom and a brief “press conference” yesterday afternoon when she read a simple statement and took no questions from the media - nothing more than a move designed to deliver a soundbite for the evening news and the next news cycle.
Channel 2 contacted Sawmill Marketing Public Relations for insights into Dixon’s PR strategy and crisis communications efforts to date. Susan told Roosevelt that the Mayor needs to deliver the whole package (words, tone of voice, facial expressions, posture, et al) consistently and repeatedly before the citizens of Baltimore can begin to re-establish trust in her. She emphasized that the longer the Mayor goes without doing so, the deeper the hole she has likely dug for herself.
As if on cue, the Mayor was holding her “press conference” as Susan drove back to the office from Channel 2. She and Sawmill partner Jeff Davis commented that they could hear the nervousness in her voice as she read from the prepared statement that they agreed was an empty one.