5 Crisis Communication Tips to Prevent Secret Service Style Delays

clancyBy Gerard Braud

Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy said it took five days before he was informed that a car carrying two agents struck a security barrier outside the White House.

How long does it take in your company for you to find out about an event that could be a potential crisis that requires you to implement your crisis communications plan and begin communicating with the media, employees, customers and other stakeholders?

Most public relations people tell me it is a constant challenge for the home office, leadership, and PR staff to find out what is going on in the field. Often, you find out only because the rest of the world has already found out and the issue is getting negative attention on social media or with the mainstream media.

How do you change this? It begins with new policies and procedures, supported by employee training, as outlined in the five tips below.

The reality is that the average employee, supervisor or manager is mostly afraid that they will get in trouble if they report a problem, large or small.

But an unreported problem creates problems for those of you who are the company expert in public relations, crisis communications and media relations.

Ultimately, you need to know about events that could damage the company’s reputation and revenue.

What are your solutions?

Tip 1: Conduct training programs that inform employees about the need to protect the company’s reputation and revenue through good reporting. Many employees and leaders never really make the full connection to the bottom line. Help them.

Tip 2: Establish an easy way for employees to notify the home office of a potential problem.

Tip 3: Train employees to get in the habit of using that notification method.

Tip 4: Provide positive recognition for employees who use the reporting mechanism and appropriate repercussions for employees who fail to report an event that could damage either reputation or revenue.

Tip 5: Do your part to speed communications by spending time on a clear sunny day to write a library of pre-written, fill-in-the-blank news releases so that you are not responsible for delaying crisis communications.

Crisis communications is a team effort and the team needs to be built for speed, both in the field and in the public relations office. One way to address this is to use the current Secret Service headlines to open a discussion with your executive staff.

If you have a great system you’d like to share with your public relations colleagues, please send me your thoughts in a guest blog post. gerard (at) braudcommunications.com

If you would like to discuss best practices for a public relations and crisis communications team built for speed, feel free to call me at 985-624-9976.

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