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by Gerald Baron: Crisis and emergency communication strategies

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Crisis Plan Fail #19 from "Why Crisis Communication Plans Fail"
February 11, 2013
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About a month ago I blogged on "Thirteen Reasons Why Crisis Communication Plans Fail." It was a brief summary of a white paper I was working on. It certainly stimulated a lot of discussion, comments and interest. Several commenters took me up on my request to add to the list and I receive a number of very valuable contributions. So, first thanks to all those who contacted me with encouragement and your additions. While some of the suggestions I felt best fit into some of the categories established, a number created new "plan fails." I'm now up to 19 reasons.

The white paper goes much deeper into each of these reasons and provides some proposed solutions on how to fix the problem. Reason #19 is a contribution from one of the Crisis Comm readers and I quote it from the white paper in full:

19. In a Perfect World Plans

A hint whether or not your plan fits this category can be found by looking at how the plan suggests you activate your team. Does it say to call their office extension? Won’t do much good for those events that happen outside of office hours. Does it say call them on their cell phone? Works as long as cell phones work—which is not much in events affecting significant parts of the population. Does your plan identify a specific person as heading the crisis communications response? What if that person goes down in the same crash that takes the Chairman and CEO. Or if she is on the beach on Barbados and can’t be reached? Perfect world plans simply don’t take into account the realities that not everything will be in order when an event hits.  You’ve planned for working with the local hospital. What if the beds are full? 


The ironic thing is that crisis plans also need their own business continuity plan. In other words, they need built-in redundancies and backup plans. Every major position should have at least three people identified and trained to fill that position. Various means of contacting key people should be considered including possible use of satellite phones. More reliance in contacting should be placed on text messaging because of the resilience of the cellular data vs. voice networks. No one single method should be relied on for activating the team and for maintaining either internal or external communication.

I hope to get around to commenting on many of the reasons in future blog posts. However, if you would like to get a copy of the current white paper (I say current because I have an idea I'm going to get more good suggestions and will have to update it), please email me at gerald.baron@agincourt.us. That will put you on the list to get future updates as well.

Once more, thanks for engaging. Thanks to all those who commented and contributed.




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