Crisis Management

crisis

I followed a MOOC regarding crisis communication and crisis management and I though that a summary will be useful for all passionate about communication like me. So, please take it as a working tool and do not hesitate to send me your comments to improve it.


WHAT IS CRISIS COMMUNICATION ?

Crisis is everything what keeps an organization not performing its mission
Something real, perceived, from nature, human error or you have no control over

Having a crisis plan can limit the damages (reputation !)
Find out who the key audience is and how best to reach them

Communication :
– Is not one-sided
– Involves more than words (body language, tone of voice, attitude,…)
– Needs to pay attention to different groups (gender, racial, cultural, … backgrounds)
Know your audience !

Common communication issues
1. Your message isn’t reaching your key audience (what channels are used ?)
2. Your key audience doesn’t understand your message (language “too” complicated ?)
3. Your key audience disagree with your message of find it offensive (try tp meet the opponents)
4. The media misrepresents your message (organize a press conference or meet the journalists)

THE BEST WAY TO DEAL WITH A CRISIS IS TO PLAN IT BEFORE IT HAPPENS → all organizations should have a crisis committee and a crisis plan, including the following elements
1. Determine the seriouseness of the situation
a. Possible negative consequences to the organization ?
b. What to do to minimize them ?
2. Develop position statements, anszer to potential questions
3. Notify everyone who has a major role in the organization
4. Appoint a “spokesperson” to deal with the media
a. Never refuse to talk to a reporter
b. If you don’t know the answer, say so
c. Say “I am not going to answer this question” if you don’t want to give details
d. Ask when the paper will be published
e. Assume what you say
5. Oversee the crisis management process : update regularly
6. After a crisis, bring all interested parties up to date
7. Thank everyone who helped to handle the situation


GUIDELINES
• Find out what the problem is
• Be honest in all situations, have the door open for conversation and common ground
• Talk with opponents
• Be flexible
• Treat everyone with respect
• Always take responsibility and apologize for anything that was your fault
• Repeat your message so that people remember in the long run


SUMMARY
Identify the problem
Try to talk with your key audience / opponents face to face, listen, keep communication open and stress similarities rather than differences between you
Be honest, avoid rethoric, be flexible without betraying your mission
Always take responsibility and apologize when error is yours
Keep restating your message clearly, in terms people can understand, calmly, with facts


TYPE OF CRISIS

3 elements are common to a crisis :
A threat to the organisation
The element of surprise
A short decision time
“process of transformation where the old system can not longer be maintained”, not the routine

Crisis management : dealing with threats before, during and after they have occurred
Identify, assess, understand and cope with a serious situation

8 types of crisis
1. Natural disaster
2. Technological crisis
3. Confrontation
4. Malevolence
5. Organizational misdeeds
6. Workplace violence
7. Rumors
8. Terrorist attack / man-made disaster

Crisis management stages
Stages :
• Detection (warning signs ?)
• Prevention (crisis preventable or not ?)
• Preparation
• Response (“application of preparation”)
• Recovery (post-crisis)

Crisis prevention
• Manage issues, repitation-relationships
• Scan, collect, analyse information
• Take preventive action if needed
• Evaluate threat reduction effectiveness

Crisis preparation & planning
• Diagnose vulnerabilities
• Access crisis types
• Select, train, team/spokespersons
• Develop crisis management plan
• Recognize organizational, managerial, individual team challenge process

Recovery & follow-up
• In-person updates & conversation with staff
• Manager rounds to all patients
• Security update to staff, patients & visitors
• Resources for employees
• Employees forums
• Identify weaknesses & resolve
• Review crisis communication plan & adjust as necessary
• Create a timeline of activities & share with leadership
• Debrief with communication staff

Some crisis response strategies
• Attach accuser, scapegoat
• (Deny crisis exists)
• (Minimize seriouseness)
• Deny intention or volition
• Provide money or compensation
• Apologize

Internal communication vehicules
• Q&A security tips
• Tips for managers
• Talking points for patients & visitors
• Incident update emails
• Incident briefings & plasma screens
• Intranet microsite / home page

External communication vehicules
• Social media
• Media releases
• Home page update

Types of crisis response
Apologize
Deny
Justify
Excuse

How could crisis response could affect perceptions of company differently ?
Align the perception to protect the image of the company & the CEO in case of corporate crisis

Both the messenger and the message matter> The CEO who provides the response is judged separately from his/her company. Apology is the most conservative but may be the safest response. A denial response or a lie is proven as risky.
Remain silent in the wake of a crisis can be a dangerous approach : the competitors, disgruntled workers or other stakeholders can define the crisis in the eyes of the public. Remember that what you say can be used against you.

The evolution of using social media in disaster response
No one can deny the power of social networking but must learn how to use the social media ! Tell your followers why they should follow you…
Use #FollowFriday or #TriAlerts as keywords
Social media is not expensive of you just remember to network and use the tools available to you.
Ex: RedCross & Dell launch a Digital Operations Center to empower communities suffering during disasters to use social tools to seek help


PREPARING FOR A CRISIS

How to prepare for a crisis : Crisis Communication Plan (CCP)

Developing a strategic plan
• What’s the purpose of the company ?
• Write a mission statement that tells customers, employees and others why your organization exists (slogan)
• Identify core values or beliefs that will guide the behavior of members of the organization
• Assess the company’s stenghts, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT)
• Establish goals and objectives (numbers, %,…), or performances targets to direct all the activities that you’ll perform to achieve your mission
• Develop and implement tactical and operational plans including plans for contingency (alternatives) and crisis to achieve goals and objectives

Crisis Communication Plan
Information to know during a crisis
• What is happening ?
• Is anyone in danger ?
• How big is the problem ?
• Who reported the problem ?
• Has a response started ?
• What resources are on scene ?
• Who is responding so far ?
• Is everyone’s location known ?

Plan = the prepared scenario document that organizes information into responsibilities and lines of communications prior to an event

4 critical elements
• Crisis communication team members with contact information
• Designated spokersperson
• Meeting place/location
• Media plan with procedures

The team
• Decides what actions to take
• Carries out those actions
• Offers expertise or education in the areas relevant to the crisis

Objectives
• Maintain connectivity
• Be readily accessible for the news media
• Show empathy for the people involved
• Allow distributed access
• Streamline communication process
• Maintain information security
• Ensure uninterrupted audit trails
• Deliver high volume communications
• Support multi channels communications including social media
• Remove dependencies on paper board processes


SUMMARY
Successful managers decide where they want the organization to go and then determine how to get there.
Planning for a business starts at the top and works its way down.
It begins with strategic planning—the process of establishing an overall course of action.
Step one is identifying the purpose of the organization.
Then, management is ready to take the remaining steps in the strategic planning process:
Prepare a mission statement that describes the purpose of the organization and tells customers, employees, and others what it’s committed to doing.
Select the core values that will guide the behavior of members of the organization by letting them know what is and isn’t appropriate and important in conducting company activities.
Use SWOT analysis to assess the company’s strengths and weaknesses and its fit with the external environment.
Set goals and objectives, or performance targets, to direct all the activities needed to achieve the organization’s mission.
Develop tactical plans and operational plans to implement objectives.


What is a Crisis Management Team (CMT) ?

A crisis can create 3 related threats
• Public safety
• Financial loss
• Reputation loss
Crisis management can be divided into 3 phases
• Pre-crisis
• Crisis response : concerned with prevention and preparation
• Post-crisis : better prepared for next crisis and fulfills commitments made during the crisis including follow-up information

Crisis Preparation Best Practices

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Crisis Media Training Best Practices

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Crisis Communication Channel Preparation Best Practices

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Initial Crisis Response Best Practices

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Master List of Reputation Repair Strategies

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Crisis Types by Attribution of Crisis Responsibility

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Attribution Theory-based Crisis Communication Best Practices

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Post-Crisis Phase Best Practices

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Crisis Management Team :
• PR
• Legal
• Security
• Operations
• Finances
• HR

Dealing with news media

Importance of adequately prepare for news media regardless the format and whether the company is communicating during a crisis or non-crisis situation

You should have a good reason for holding a press conference. Wasting the media’s time on a frivolous issue will only set you up for challenges later on. You should also have a brief prepared statement that you will read and restate if necessary. Today’s press conference messages are often drafted by someone in public relations or media, and reviewed by legal counsel when warranted. If the task falls to you, keep it short and simple, addressing the following:
• Who?
• What?
• Where?
• When?
• How?
• Why?


USING SOCIAL MEDIA DURING A CRISIS

Why social media is useful during a crisis

The growth of social media over the past few years has been exponential; according to Nielsen, Twitter alone grew 1,382 percent in February 2009, registering 7,000,000 unique visitors in the United States for the month. By February 2010, Twitter had 75,000,000 registered users and between 10,000,000 and 15,000,000 active tweeters. Meanwhile, Facebook has more than 400 million active users worldwide, according to its website, with each user averaging 130 Facebook friends.

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Other continuing trends in social networking include microblogging on sites such as Twitter, which is rapidly becoming the fastest source of news on the Internet. The site acts as a personal newswire, passing on information about shared world events as they affect people in real time.
Why you should Tweet during a crisis :
Using Twitter or social network to reassure users during a crisis
• Any kind of acknowledgment online will result in lowered negativity and improved perceptions and may lead to fewer people calling the call/emergency centre
• Companies need to think about who posts the information, not just what is posted – a trusted community manager may be better than an anonymous account or an executive
• Companies can improve the effectiveness of their acknowledgements by explaining the nature and cause of the issue
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In addition to brand marketing and cross-promotions infiltrating social networking sites, digital experts predict social media will become more exclusive, with people filtering out clutter from unwanted sources.
Another highly targeted web trend is the emergence of micro magazines—digital publications aimed at a specific audience that attract advertisers wanting to reach a particular group of people.

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SUMMARY
Social networking sites continue to grow in popularity; Facebook is the largest social networking site on the web with more than 400 million users worldwide. Social gaming is a popular trend on networking sites, and many users are not typical video game players; instead, they fit the female over-40 demographic. Developers generate revenue from social networking sites by charging gamers real money for bonuses or virtual goods. Microblogging is another popular social networking trend. Key events around the world are often reported on microblog Twitter first by users who experience the events firsthand. Business owners use Twitter to connect with their customers more effectively. Celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher are media savvy and use Twitter to promote worthy causes. Digital experts predict social networking will become more exclusive in the future, with people filtering out clutter from unwanted sources.
The Internet is moving in a more exclusive direction through membership-only sites such as Thrillist, which cater to specific audiences via subscription newsletters. Micro magazines, which target very specific audiences and are distributed via email or RSS feed, are also becoming more popular.
Applications for smartphones and tablet computers such as the iPad are hugely popular, offering consumers numerous shortcuts to their favorite websites in addition to games and services. Two current trends are location-sharing applications, facilitated by the GPS functionality on modern smartphones, and cross-media applications such as those that tie in with particular television shows, celebrities, or music radio stations.


The risks of using social media
Social media sites are free BUT can be translated to monetary costs 84% of the time : top costs are the following
• Lost productivity
• Lost revenue
• Loss of organization, customer or employee data damage to a company’s brand reputation
• …
There are no “social media insurances”. Most common types of social media risk and liability :
• Advertising liability
• Defamation
• Employer hiring/firing practices
• Security breach / privacy breach
• …
Law firms should review their policies to ensure that electronic communications are covered.

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Social media marketing

Retaining customers is the purpose of customer-relationship management—a marketing strategy that focuses on using information about current customers to nurture and maintain strong relationships with them. The underlying theory is fairly basic: to keep customers happy, you treat them well, give them what they want, listen to them, reward them with discounts and other loyalty incentives, and deal effectively with their complaints.

In the last five years, the popularity of social media marketing has exploded. Most likely you already know what social media is—you use it every day when you connect to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or any number of other online sites that allow you to communicate with others, network, and bookmark and share your opinions, ideas, photos, and videos. So what is social media marketing? Quite simply social media marketing is the practice of including social media as part of a company’s marketing program.
The days of trying to reach customers through ads on TV, in newspapers, or in magazines are over.

Social media marketing provides a number of advantages to companies, including enabling them to:
• create brand awareness;
• connect with customers and potential customers by engaging them in two-way communication;
• build brand loyalty by providing opportunities for a targeted audience to participate in company-sponsored activities, such as a contest;

• offer and publicize incentives, such as special discounts or coupons, which increase sales;
• gather feedback and ideas on how to improve products and marketing initiatives;
• allow customers to interact with each other and spread the word about a company’s products or marketing initiatives; and
• take advantage of low-cost marketing opportunities by being active on free social sites, such as Facebook.
The main challenge of social media marketing is that it can be very time consuming. It takes determination and resources to succeed. Small companies often lack the staff to initiate and manage social media marketing campaigns.

Social networking experiment shows effects of mass mobilization. Emergency management in the social media age = CHANGE IN THE MINDSET
• From “come to us” to “we’ll come to you”
• From “we’ll decide what community needs” to “community will tell us what they need”
• Public is a resource, not a liability (not an official source of information)

Why social media ?
• Speed
• Reach
• Automatic warnings
• OSOM : One Source, One Message
• 24/7

Principles
1. Proactive and effective use of social media can help achieve a mission
2. To use social media effectively, agencies need to build and maintain credibility and trust in the space and be seen as open, transparent and honest
3. Agencies play a critical role in information flow and will encourage and engage in the exchange of timely, relevant and tailored information via social media

 Bridging the gap :
• Understand concerns, build trust
• Flexible policies and procedures
• Practical examples and cases studies
• Advocate on behalf of community


SUMMARY
Because customers are vital to a business, successful companies practice customer-relationship management—retaining good customers by keeping information on current customers, to foster and maintain strong ongoing relationships.
Companies that ask customers if they can contact them are engaged in permission marketing.
Mass marketing is the practice of sending out messages to a vast audience of anonymous people.
TV advertising is a form of interruption marketing that interrupts people to get their attention (with the hope they will listen to the ad).
Social media marketing is the practice of including social media as part of a company’s marketing program.
Advantages of social media marketing include the following:
Create brand awareness
Engage customers and potential customers in two-way conversations
Build brand loyalty
Offer and publicize incentives
Gather feedback on products and marketing initiatives
Have customers spread the word about products and marketing initiatives
Use low-cost marketing opportunities
A challenge of social media marketing is that it can be very time consuming to stay in touch with your customers and potential customers.


DESIGNING A CRISIS COMMUNICATION PLAN (CCP)

The plan will be different if designed for government agency, nonprofit organization or private company. Moreover, they are key elements that are expected to include.

What type of information does a Crisis Communications Plan contain ?

Purpose of a Crisis Communication Plan :to effectively manage communications through a formal, clearly defined channel in order to mitigate crisis, or serious negative repercussions for the company or the sector, and maintain a reputation of leadership and transparency on vital issues and breaking news.

Objectives of this crisis communications plan:
• Prepare the Association staff to effectively and nimbly manage crisis communications;
• Help staff respond in a unified, professional manner that reinforces sector leadership and creates loyalty;
• Strategically enhance the organization’s brand/role, and the public understanding of the value provided by the nonprofit community;
• Manage the distribution of critical, often sensitive, information to the media, members, and public; Inform members of the company’s position to help shape a consistent sector-wide response

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Crisis Communications Checklist Overview
Safety – Ensure safety of all staff and site. Call 911 if needed.
Notification – Notify the president & CEO immediately.
Crisis Communications Team – Key staff and, if needed, the chairs of the Board and the Marketing and Communications Committee (MACC), will convene to strategically review the situation and manage the communications surrounding the issue.
Note: In some cases, a larger Crisis Management Team may be needed when action surrounding the crisis involves more than just handling communications. In those cases, the Crisis Communication Team would be a part of the larger team, though the guidelines in this manual only outline the steps to take in the communication needs surrounding a crisis.

 Before Going Public
o Determine crisis communications lead person who is responsible for ensuring all tasks are completed (most likely the director of communications).
o Determine the crisis communication spokesperson who will answer all media and other inquiries (most likely the president & CEO).
o Assess the situation to determine the facts (see Detailed Crisis Communication Plan on page 6)
o Determine appropriate response/action (see Appendix 3: Decision Tree).
o Create plan of action for internal and external communications.
o Develop factual, detailed messages that reflect the status of the crisis, the Association’s response, and, if possible, proactive steps to resolve the situation.
o Prepare talking points and provide a script for the receptionist receiving incoming calls.
o Determine if a press release, web and/or voicemail updates are necessary.
o Assess what resources are necessary to manage the crisis (i.e. cell-phone availability, press conference needs, on-location resources – signs, lectern, visuals, etc).
o Appoint staff to:
Serve as the official spokesperson and manage media;
Keep the chairs of the Board and the MACC informed;
Contact partners, allies, members, etc. and assist with sector-wide talking points, if appropriate; and record crisis details, actions taken,external responses, resolution.

 Going Public
o Begin placing telephone calls to critical internal audiences, including staff, board and/or legislators, etc.
o Begin media and other external audience outreach, use press release if appropriate.
o Update web site and organization phone mail, if needed.
o Evaluate message effectiveness as the situation progresses.
o Implement methods for updating key audiences with ongoing information.
o Distribute post-crisis communications.
o Evaluate crisis communications efforts

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How to design a Crisis Communications Plan ?

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10 steps to developing a plan :
1. Choose and set up your monitoring platform(s)
2. Determine your monitoring schedule
3. Ensure local language supports teams
4. Determine what constitutes a crisis

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5. Determine what you WILL respond to
• Customers service issues
• Features requests
• Other inquiries
6. Determine what you will NOT respond to
• Rumors
• Internal affairs
• …
7. Form you Crisis Communications Team
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8. Decide who will respond on the company’s behalf
9. Decide what to report on and how frequently
10. Build support beams


DEVELOPING STRATEGIC MESSAGES

How to use key messages to tell the company’s story and how to incorporate key strategic messages in online and traditional media tools
AND how to help managers communicate timely, effective and truthful messages while adhering to sound business principles

Practice writing key messages that tell your company’s story

Public relations can truly mean the difference between life and death for an organization, or the difference between profitability and failure.
Your message strategy consists of a positioning statement and three support points.
Your message strategy makes it easier to deliver the same message across all marketing media including Web sites, brochures, advertisements and presentations to investors, industry analysts and prospects. Consistent execution of the same message is a critical factor in successful marketing. Messages that Matter uses a formal, systematic methodology to help you develop the right message strategy.
Your positioning statement becomes the central idea or theme for all your marketing activities. A positioning statement is a short, declarative sentence that states just one benefit, and addresses your target market’s No. 1 problem.
A good positioning statement easily adapts to various media. It should be simply stated and works in every aspect of your marketing effort. So in summary, a positioning statement is:
Short sentence-less than 12 words (not counting product name)
• Simple language
• Adaptable to various media
• A compelling statement of one benefit
• A conceptual statement…not necessarily copy
• Supported by 3 additional benefit claims
• Satisfies 4 evaluation criteria (unique, believable, important and useable)
Once you’ve developed a positioning statement, you need to bolster it with three supporting claims.


Incorporate key messages using online and traditional media tools

Keys to Media Relations Success
Communicating with the media starts with knowing how their operation works, what they need and how they need it. You must know what they are looking for and structure your information to fit their needs.
• You and reporters have the same goal: accurate, timely communication of information.
• Misunderstandings occur because of a lack of awareness of how the media works and of what a reporter needs. Unfortunately, faults charged to the media are often a reflection of an industry or person who made the job tougher or did little to help the reporter “get the facts.”
• The news media is comprised of individuals who have a job or assignment to do. They have individual biases, as we all do, but the vast majority are reasonable and receptive.
• A good reporter is one who asks questions. You will find working with the news media much easier if you understand that asking the tough question is part of their job.
• Reporters seldom have the time to research a subject as much as you or they would like. Instead, they depend on you to work with them in getting the full picture.
• Many reporters are skeptical, by training if not by nature, so accept it. Your part of the equation is to supply useful, accurate and meaningful data without losing sight of your point of view.
• The success of your approach depends largely upon your ability to understand the relationship between you and the reporter and your knowledge of your role.
• Meet with reporters and editors one-on-one, prior to when you need coverage (an editorial backgrounder) and keep the presentation as short as possible. You lose effectiveness if you talk too long and you may miss an opportunity to learn what they want to know from their questions. Your purpose is to establish a dialogue, rather than a speech. Listen to them. Try to elicit the tough questions while you are there to answer.
Some Do’s and Don’ts in Dealing With the Media:
• Have research to back up what you’re saying.
• If you don’t know something, say so. Promise to get back quickly with the correct information – and do it.
• Never play reporters off against each other or threaten to go to another reporter with a story.
Reporters are people too, so little things are important, like:
• A personal note on a fine story a reporter has written.
• A tip on a matter unrelated to what you are doing.
• A personal invitation to a social event.
• Be aware of how the same reporters can “pop up” covering different beats within one, or different media organizations.
• Never lie or attempt to answer a question you don’t really know the answer to. Again, if you don’t know something, say so, and get back to the reporter with the correct information.

Television and Radio Interviews: Understanding Your Role

Broadcast (television and radio) is a headline service. Make your point and stop. TV news is to journalism what bumper stickers are to philosophy. Broadcast needs “talking heads.” It needs a spokesperson, a voice, a face.
The news director and producer determine what is to be covered, in coordination with the assignment editor.
The assignment editor is the primary contact for news; the producer is the primary contact for feature shows.
There is a weekend staff, as well as an after 7:00 p.m. staff, with the weekend and evening shift making assignments and news decisions for their segments.
News reporters are looking for the action/conflict in the story. The evening news is drama – visual and moving.
TV news looks also for the local angle to the national story of the day.
Primarily, TV wants it in 30 second segments, no time to “background” the reporter.
News reporters have a maximum of three hours to spend on the average story, most of the time far less, including the filming of the story. This produces only a couple of minutes on air, and boils down to around 30 seconds for your message.
News interviews or segments are short, to the point, and concise.
“Cutaway” or “Reverse Shots” can be expected, where the spokesperson is asked to remain on camera while other angles are shot for later insertion in the interview, showing your reporter listening

10 Key Media Interview Tips
1. Establish ground rules. Don’t hesitate to speak to the reporter ahead of time about the duration of the interview and the topics you will or will not address.
2. Identify yourself. Give your full title and provide biographical information when appropriate.
3. Stick to the point. During the interview stay focused, use short and concise sentences, and use everyday language. Formulate each response to make your point upfront, followed by supporting and explanations.
4. Be clear. Avoid acronyms and jargon. Imagine that you are speaking to a neighbor or relative who is not involved in planning.
5. Avoid saying anything “off the record.” It is better not to tell a reporter anything you do not want to see in print or on television. Remember, off-the-record isn’t retroactive. You can’t tell a reporter something and then take it back.
6. Use humor carefully. A facetious remark often seems sarcastic on the air or printed page.
7. Maximize non-verbal communications. What you wear, your body language, and your gesticulations should support your message and build your credibility as an expert.
8. Take control. Always remember, you don’t have to answer the questions they ask! Understand and utilize bridging phrases to transition from the question that was ask to the message point you want to make (see more detail on bridging in the last section of this document).
9. Offer to check the facts. Always offer to review factual information and quotes for accuracy. If the reporter declines to let you review copy for a printed article and you are concerned about being misquoted, ask the reporter what he or she intends to quote from your interview.
10. Provide informational materials. Never send a reporter away empty-handed. Provide news releases, journal articles, a biographical sketch, or a summary of your main points.

New Media Tips
Twitter
Many organizations use third party applications such as HootSuite or TweetDeck to manage their tweets. HootSuite enables users to view several columns — such as their recent tweets, follower stream, direct messages sent and received, and more. This application also allows users to pre-schedule tweets and includes a built-in URL shortener, which enables users to track how many visits their links receive from Twitter. TweetDeck is another application through which you can view multiple columns and shortern URLs. This application also provides users with the ability to post their Twitter content to platforms such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.
Post information about your organization’s activities and honors, as well as news articles related to your field. See the additional information below for tips on how to connect with others on Twitter.
Twitter is a reciprocal space. Do your best to retweet relevant links and news from your followers. It is also appropriate to include further commentary about the information you are re-sharing. It will make the content more valuable to your followers.
It is appropriate to ask your followers to RT information if a message is important or time sensitive.
Make sure to congratulate your followers or online partners on their good work. Twitter is about sharing and collaborating.
You can find new people to follow by searching for relevant keywords at search.twitter.com. If you’re using a third party application like HootSuite or TweetDeck, you can set-up a search column to keep tabs on people tweeting on a particular subject. This is a great way to find new people who are interested in similiar issues and connect with them on Twitter.
Be selective with who you choose to follow by following those who seem like legitimate sources of information. Quality of followers is more important than quanity on Twitter. Do not follower spammers back.
Facebook
Facebook Fan Pages are a “one-stop-shop” for posting many of the items you may want to share, including photos, videos, news articles, event information and more.
Make sure to stay active on Facebook by posting links and information on your wall. Encourage fans to interact with you by asking them questions, too. If a fan posts something on the wall, be sure to thank them for their comment or respond to them appropriately.
Facebook gives you the option to post pictures directly to your page, or to add a tab the imports your photos on Flickr. If you want the conversation to start on Facebook, it’s recommended you post the pictures directly to the page. Also, it’s important for every picture you post to have a caption to give your fans some context. The same is true with videos. You can also add a tab that imports your YouTube videos, but can also upload the footage directly to Facebook if you want your fans to be able to comment on the page.
You can invite your Facebook Fans to events through your page by creating a new event item. Facebook will send users an invitation, which they can choose to accept or decline. Fans may also add this information directly to their Microsoft Outlook calendars through Facebook.
YouTube
Use YouTube as a venue to post videos featuring a spokesperson or an event such as a groundbreaking or awards ceremony. In order to keep the content fresh and current, your organization may choose to invest in a small hand held camcorder, such as a FlipCam or Creative Vado.

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great space for professionals to connect and share information online. Organizations can create either an interest group or company profile. Once you have created a company profile, LinkedIn will automatically pull information about each employee into the corporate profile. This serves as a directory for those in your field seeking information about individuals at your organization.
Additionally, LinkedIn serves as another space to promote other Web sites, such as your blog. Both your individual and your corporate LinkedIn profiles offer the opportunity to use the BlogLink application to feature your blog. Additionally, the SlideShare application allows you to post PowerPoint presentations. Events can also be shared on LinkedIn.


Help management to communicate truthful messages

There are usually two things happening during a crisis:
1.) the issue at hand that needs to be dealt with
It could be a fire in one of your buildings, a disgruntled former employee who shares internal documents, embezzlement or corruption, kidnap and ransom, a hurricane takes the roof off your warehouse, your plant goes down because of flooding or a power grid failure and production is halted, etc. You get the idea.
Or, it could be a known issue — one the management team or the general manager know about and may not have briefed the communication team. I’m inclined to think this is the case with many recent break downs between companies and their communities.
2.) communication with all stakeholders and the public at large where applicable
This includes employees and their families, local authorities and emergency personnel, business partners, vendors, board of directors, analysts, and the investor community as applicable, as well as the physical and virtual communities affected — directly and indirectly.
Communicators and PR professionals are taught that during a crisis, they should use the ICE method to guide the response. ICE stands for Information, Communication and Evaluation. These three areas and the processes associated with them will help you stay organized and keep the crisis response team and the crisis management task force on the same page.
I — Information
Gather as much information as possible about the event: who, what, when, where, why, how and more. Check and double check the facts, and get updates often. Do you have open communication lines with the people in the field and those close to the crisis? Do you have a process to capture information as it becomes available?
C — Communication
Once information has been gathered and verified, communicate to employees and other key stakeholders, including the media, as appropriate. Keep a log of all requests for information from each stakeholder group. Do you have pre-approved language you can insert key facts into to aid with speed in initial communications? What’s your process for ongoing updates? Who needs to be involved in approvals?
E — Evaluation
Monitor media stories and online conversations to make certain information is being presented accurately. The crisis response team must act immediately to correct any incorrect or misleading information. Update information frequently and verify progress in the organization’s response.

Towards a more practical end, international business behaviors are frequently governed by governmental and industry regulations requiring that marketers:
• be legal, decent, honest , and truthful;
• show responsibility to the customers and society;
• follow business principles of fair competition
Ethical Norms and Values for Marketers:
• Do no harm.
• Foster trust in the marketing system.
• Embrace ethical values.
• Strive to be truthful at all times.
• Offer products of value that do as claimed.
• Stand behind products that fail to deliver as claimed.
• Honor commitments and promises.
• Strive to serve the needs of customers.
• Avoid using coercion with all stakeholders.
• Consider environmental stewardship in decision-making.
• Value individual differences and avoid stereotyping customers in a negative way.
• List to needs of customers and make reasonable efforts to improve their satisfaction.
• Give back to the community through volunteerism and charitable donations.


Communicate to various stakeholder groups

Experts in stakeholder management and public relations have provided many different ways of identifying key stakeholders or publics. At the heart of these attempts is the question, “How much attention does each stakeholder group deserve or require?
It is impossible that all stakeholders will have the same interests in and demands on the organization. Once organizations have identified their stakeholders, there is a struggle for attention: who to give it to, who to give more to, and who to ignore. Sacrificing the needs of one stakeholder for the needs of the other is a dilemma with which many organizations struggle. When these conflicts arise it is important to the success of the organization that it has prioritized each stakeholder according to the situation.
A stakeholder is a group or individual who is affected by or can affect the success of an organization. The definition has been expanded to include groups who have interests in the corporation, regardless of the corporation’s interest in them. Employees, customers, shareholders, communities, and suppliers are those most commonly classified as stakeholders within an organization.
Organizations choose stakeholders by their marketing strategies, recruiting, and investment plans, but “publics arise on their own and choose the organization for attention.
Grunig and Hunt developed the model based on the work of Esman (1972); Evan (1976); Parsons (1976).
• Enabling stakeholders have some control and authority over the organization, such as stockholders, board of directors, elected officials, governmental legislators and regulators, and so on. These stakeholders provide an organization with resources and necessary levels of autonomy to operate. When enabling relationships falter, the resources can be withdrawn and the autonomy of the organization limited, restricted, or regulated.
• Functional stakeholders are essential to the operations of the organization and are divided between input—providing labor and resources to create products or services (such as employees and suppliers)—and output—receiving the products or services (such as consumers and retailers).
• Normative stakeholders are associations or groups with which the organization has a common interest. These stakeholders share similar values, goals, or problems and often include competitors that belong to industrial or professional associations.
• Diffused stakeholders are the most difficult to identify because they include publics who have infrequent interaction with the organization, and become involved based on the actions of the organization. These are the publics that often arise in times of a crisis; linkages include the media, the community, activists, and other special interest groups.

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Grunig developed a situational theory of publics to explain and predict why some publics are active and others are passive.
Those publics who do not face a problem are nonpublics, those who face the problem but do not recognize it as a problem are latent publics, those who recognize the problem are aware publics, and those who do something about the problem are active publics. He identified three variables that explain why certain people become active in certain situations: level of involvement, problem recognition, and constraint recognition.

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Level of involvement is measured by the extent to which people connect themselves personally with the situation. However, people do not seek or process information unless they recognize the connection between them and a problem, which is the level of problem recognition. Whether people move beyond information processing to the information seeking behavior of active publics often depends on whether they think they can do something about the problem. Constraint recognition is the level of personal efficacy a person believes that he or she holds, and the extent to which he or she is having an impact on the issue is possible. Those who think that nothing can be done have high constraint recognition and are less compelled to become active in the resolution of the problem. Another consideration, referent criteria, is the guideline that people apply to new situations based on previous experiences with the issue or the organization involved.
Stakeholders who are also active publics become the obvious top priority publics.
Therefore, an organization must develop strategies to help mediate issues with priority publics. These strategies will depend on whether the stakeholders are supportive or nonsupportive and active or inactive. Therefore, you would develop strategies based on four groups, advocate stakeholders (active and supportive), dormant stakeholders (inactive and supportive), adversarial stakeholders (active and nonsupportive), and apathetic stakeholders (inactive and nonsupportive).
• Advocate stakeholders. This is the group that you want involved in supportive actions such as third-party endorsements, letter-writing campaigns, donations, investments, and attendance at functions. Communication should be action and behavior oriented.
• Dormant stakeholders. This is a group that is not ready to be involved. If inactivity is due to lack of knowledge, messages should focus on creating awareness and understanding of the issues that affect them. If the publics are aroused, but not active, then communication should address potential causes of apathy by reducing perceptions of constraints or using affective cues to increase emotional attachment.
• Adversarial stakeholders. The initial response to this group is to be defensive. However, defensive communication will not work on this group, it will only entrench them in their position. Defensive communication is better intended for aroused publics who have not decided whether they are supportive or not. Instead, organizations should use conflict resolution strategies that involve nonsupportive stakeholders to seek win-win solutions.
• Apathetic stakeholders. Again, the gut reaction to this group is to ignore it. But if this group faces an issue but is not aware of it or does not see its resonance yet, it may still move to an aroused, then aware, and then active public. A better strategy is to increase awareness of the issue with an invitation to collaborate with the organization on the issue before it becomes a problem or crisis. Since it would be difficult to get this group involved, most of the communication effort should be focused on increasing the salience of the issue and invitations for involvement.
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The defensive approach is a reactive behavior that acts principally in the self-interest of the organization. The responsive approach is a reactive behavior that considers its impact on stakeholders. The assertive approach is proactive behavior that promotes self-interests in an attempt to control an organization’s environment. And, the collaborative approach is proactive behavior that uses dialogue to create mutually beneficial solutions that incorporate the interests of both the organization and its stakeholders.
Developing positive relationships with stakeholders is a necessity for organizations. The first step is to identify your stakeholders and then prioritize them according to organizational goals and situations. A common tendency is to respond to the squeaky-wheel stakeholder. If the organization has not properly prioritized its stakeholders and their relationships, this group may get more attention than is deserved. This model demonstrates that the squeaky wheel may not be the stakeholder with the greatest priority. By using the steps outlined in this chapter, organizations can take a more systematic and comprehensive approach to prioritizing stakeholders.
To help organizations deal with varying situations, the four segments approach of the contingency model helps to create an effective public relations strategy. The understanding of these four main approaches offers you a theoretical foundation and a practical guide to practicing strategic public relations.

 

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Which skills define a good communications specialist ?

keep-calm-i-m-a-communications-specialist

To me, no matter the degrees obtained, a good communicator must know how to listen before communicating. That is the key to create and maintain positive relationships internal, with stakeholders, KOL, between the clients and the public using media outlets.

The communicator must provide strong research and analytical skills as well as problem solving methodologies. He will often be confronted with a huge mass of complex information that he will have to analyze and then summarize, interpret and synthesize in a concise way, in a clear and precise language, comprehensible for all. 

But to stand out from competitors, he must treat the information in an original, creative way, while remaining stuck to reality. He must combine creativity AND pragmatism. He has to prove a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail.

Rarely confronted with only one project at a time (thankfully!), the communicator must demonstrate superior organizational and time-management skills, competing priorities. The skills most often required are the ability to multi-task, meet deadlines and work under pressure.
Everyone has their own tips and tricks for managing time, either manually or electronically. Personally, I make lists with priorities and check when an action is performed.

check-list_0

The communications specialist position often requires a sound judgement and effective use of necessary discretionIt is indeed a position where the communicator can deal  with delicate information, under embargo, confidential and he must be able to be discreet and diplomatic.

The PR – or communications – specialist – must think strategically. His role is to develop and implement communications plans.

We are living in the 21st century so… The communications specialist must provide extensive knowledge of social media platforms, computer skills and technologies ! More than a communicator, he must become a community manager.

social media - edited_0

The size of a communications team can be extremely variable from one company to another. The communicator must be capable of working independently with minimal supervision while being a collaborative member of a communications team.

Yes, of course, last but not least… The communications specialist must have strong writing, copy editing and proofreading skills, also interpersonal and communications skills. Storytelling must be a vocation, a passion, not just a work for paycheck… But do I really need to tell you that ?

Typically the entry-level communications specialist possess a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field: public relations, communications, marketing or journalism.

The use of the masculine gender includes the feminine and is employed solely to facilitate reading.

Design Thinking in Healthcare

Harvard Business Review, Nov 3 2017

How Design Thinking Is Improving Patient-Caregiver Conversations

November 03, 2017

Technical developments tend to grab the headlines in health care. Predictive analytics, telemedicine, electronic health records — technology is rightly seen as a transformative force in health delivery.

But it’s not the only one. At Rotterdam Eye Hospital, hospital administrators have found that through their ongoing design-thinking program, lower-tech measures can also improve health care. Simple measures such as building a more intuitive website, replacing harsh fluorescent lighting and cold linoleum floors with softer lighting and wood parquet, and giving children and pediatric ophthalmologists matching T-shirts have reduced patient fears. Addressing patients’ fears is important because fear can make an eye operation difficult or even impossible. Moreover, less fear translates into greater patient satisfaction.

Now, Rotterdam Eye Hospital has integrated a measure that is even lower-tech: better conversations. People have a deep-seated fear of eye surgery, and patients naturally want to discuss their conditions and their treatment options with their doctors. But as the hospital’s design-thinking team observed those discussions, they realized that not all patients are looking for the same conversation. The team — which included one of us (Roel) — saw that most patients fit into one of four categories: Google patients, who are obsessive about information; dominant patients, who like to be firmly in charge of their case; quiet patients, who will say everything is fine, even when it isn’t; and emotional patients, who, more than anything, just want reassurance that their caregivers are looking after them.

After researching the different ways in which people respond to fear, the coach on the design-thinking team trained hospital staff to look for the distinctive set of verbal and nonverbal cues that marked patient behavior as belonging to one of four types and then respond appropriately (see the exhibit “Improving Patient-Caregiver Conversations”).


One complicating factor is that patients — and their loved ones, for that matter — behave differently in different contexts. Someone might be quiet as a patient but feel the need to dominate the room if he is trying to find out what the doctors are planning for his elderly mother. Or when the reality of a difficult diagnosis sinks in, she may go from being a Googler to an emotional patient. Given that people do sometimes switch between types, it’s even more important to be aware of patients’ verbal and nonverbal signs. A change can indicate that a patient is afraid or feels helpless. In both situations, it’s critical for a caregiver to respond appropriately.

The program is now seven years old. A trial group was trained in 2010, and the entire staff is now trained on a yearly basis. The training takes two days. On the first day, participants get acquainted with the different patient types. They find out what type of person they are, and in small groups they discover how they can recognize other types and how they can respond to them. Then participants go back to their jobs and are invited to apply what they have learned. After two to three weeks have passed, participants come together and share their experiences.

Besides the yearly training, the principles of the patient types are reviewed at every morning staff meeting in a Trivial Pursuit–style card game that also includes questions on issues such as infection prevention, medication safety, and checklist management. The purpose is to discuss current topics and difficult issues in a playful and accessible way. To ensure the insights generated by the card questions and activities stick, the results are shared with the group the following morning.

After each training program, the caregivers who participated are surveyed annually for several years. In 2016, the staff at Rotterdam Eye Hospital gave the annual training sessions an 8.7 on a 10-point scale. Ninety-nine percent of the participants said they would recommend the program to a colleague; 96% said they would like to attend a follow-up training session.

Many hospital staff members have told us these sessions are helpful. “Thanks to the yearly training, I now have fewer difficult patients, because I can recognize their fear signs and know how to respond,” one medical resident said.

An ophthalmologist said: “I always thought the more information, the better. Now I know that is only helpful for some patients, whereas other patients become more and more afraid when I tell them what is going to happen.”

The benefits of the method were also reflected in high levels of patient satisfaction. In 2016, MediQuest, an independent research firm, surveyed 850 of the Rotterdam Eye Hospital’s patients to obtain a Net Promoter Score (NPS). It asked them to indicate on a 0 to 10 scale (0 was very unlikely and 10 was very likely) the likelihood that they would recommend the hospital to family and friends. The percentage of patients who answered between 0 and 6 was subtracted from the percentage who answered 9 or 10. In 2016, the hospital’s outpatient care received an NPS of 54.7%, one of the highest scores of the group of 31 Dutch hospitals that were surveyed (the average for all participating health care institutions was 42.7%). For hospital care, Rotterdam Eye Hospital received an NPS score of 70.6% (the average for all the 39 surveyed hospitals was 42.2%).

This program differs from conventional design-thinking work in that its positive impact goes well beyond “the customer.” The annual training sessions to identify the four types of patient have also improved how the staff members work with each other.

“The training taught me how to provide feedback to a dominant colleague, and he recognizes it!” one nurse said. “I thought that getting straight to the point was being rude. But that was my perception.”

This program has worked out so well at Rotterdam Eye Hospital that in 2014 Irishof, a special nursing home for the visually impaired elderly, decided to adopt the system. The home, operated by Zorgpartners Midden-Holland, used the same categories but extended them to include details about how these four types of patients deal with grief and declining health. Its caregivers like the program.

A rehabilitation center operated by Zorgpartners Midden-Holland is currently testing the system. The center wants to design motivational programs tailored to the patient’s particular needs, taking into account how fears of delirium and dementia affect different patients. Initial results — for patients and staff — are very promising. All participants said they would recommend the program to a colleague, and 99% of the trained caregivers would like to attend a follow-up program.

As far back as the ancient Greeks, physicians have understood that personality plays an important role in human health. Hippocrates himself once wrote, “It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.” In this technology-focused age, it’s easy to forget that there are times when only human beings can give each other what they most need.


Dirk Deichmann is an assistant professor at Erasmus University’s Rotterdam School of Management.


Roel van der Heijde is a partner at N3Wstrategy. He previously worked as a senior consultant and trainer at the Rotterdam Eye Hospital.


Boost your PR coverage asking the right question !

Entrepreneur, Nov 2 2017

Answering This One Question Can Boost Positive PR Coverage

If you didn’t own the store, why would you care that it’s opening?

Here’s a newsflash: most public relations and media relations professionals have the wrong perspective when they interact with the media. The typical PR professional thinks to themselves, “How can I get the media to cover my story?”

That’s the wrong way to think and wrong question to ask.

While there’s never a guarantee of media coverage, you greatly increase your chances of a reporter or editor sharing your story if you think like a news reporter or editor. The only question media members have in their minds when they’re deciding on a story is, “Why should my audience or readers care about this?”

After more than 25 years in the communications field, I have yet to meet a traditionally-trained PR professional or marketing executive who automatically thinks that way, even though it’s the best way to crack the media code for coverage.

The reality is that reporters, producers and editors are not anxiously staring at their inboxes waiting for your email pitch, news release announcing a new store opening or a media alert naming a new CEO of your organization. If anything, news media personnel are looking for a reason NOT to cover your story. They are simply inundated with too many news leads to begin with.

The best way to cut through the clutter of possible news story ideas jockeying for the attention of the media gatekeepers is to think like one of them. Here are a few things to move your thinking towards a media mindset:

1. Be helpful even if it doesn’t help you.

A large part of media and public relations is relationships. The best way to build a relationship is to help someone whenever you can without asking for something in return. The idea is simple and analogous to your personal finances, in that you have to make deposits in a bank before you can make withdrawals. Media relationships are the same way.

You must help reporters, producers and editors with stories that aren’t necessarily about your organization, product or message first before asking them to cover you. When I was a reporter, I responded positively to PR folks who approached me in that way.

Related: 3 Branding Goals I Know You Can Accomplish This Year

2. Do your research.

By this I mean get to know the type of stories the reporter likes to cover; understand the audience of the particular media outlet you’re targeting and know exactly how the outlet brands itself. That last point is crucial. A pitch to The New York Times will (and should) be wildly different than a story idea you would pitch to Rolling Stone magazine.

Each publication has a completely different audience, editorial mission and viewpoint. The same holds true if you want to pitch CNN or Fox News. Each of those channels require a different tact. The savvy PR person will know that and customize their pitch accordingly.

Related: How to Make Company Announcements in Buzzworthy Ways

3. Create a bona fide news hook.

The best media relations folks understand that the only way to get coverage for their event, message, organization or product is to find an angle that’s going to be meaningful and relevant for the target news outlet’s respective audience. Again, you must answer the fundamental question, “Why should the viewer/reader care?”

It’s simply not enough just to say something is “new and improved.” If that’s all you’ve got to pitch, the news editor or reporter will transfer your call to the advertising department and make you pay for an ad.

So, instead of announcing that you’re opening a submarine sandwich shop, a better news angle would be to invite a news crew/reporter to tag along while you deliver free submarine sandwiches every day for a week to a different homeless shelter in your city or hand them out where the homeless congregate. You’ve now transformed a new store opening into a legit news story about a city’s homeless problem and one small way you’re trying to respond to it and inspire others to do the same.

These tips are obvious once they’ve clearly stated in an article list, but it’s been my anecdotal experience that they are obviously missing from most PR pitches to the media.