Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Crisis Communications: It’s Best to be a Straight Shooter

The current economic crisis has Wall Street in a frenzy, Capitol Hill scrambling in an attempt to save the day, and the average American shaking their head, and rightly their finger, at both.

I knew things were bad when during my morning commute I forewent my morning Top 40 radio station for the Public Radio preset that only gets play when my parents borrow my car. But I really became concerned when I heard Senators and Congressmen talking about working through the weekend, an almost unheard of concept inside the Beltway.

For Public Relations practitioners, Tony Garcia of PRWeek highlights an important lesson to be gained from the flurry of financial company statements released last week- it’s always better to shoot straight from the hip. While President Bush may try to alleviate fears and reduce panic by assuring Americans that the economic situation is not as dire as it seems, companies and their communications teams have a responsibility to both consumers and investors to nix the spin and give it to us straight. As Eric Starkman, president of Starkman & Associates says, financial communicators serve as a “reality check,” no matter how unpleasant that reality may be.

According to Gina Rubel, Esq. President and CEO of Furia Rubel Communications, “while it’s important that corporate attorneys work closely with their clients to ensure the media messages are accurate, it’s important nonetheless to shoot straight from the hip.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Katie,
I agree about honesty and transparency being the best policy in crisis communications. Hearken back just a few years to the JetBlue debacle, and how quickly the crisis was quelled (relatively speaking) when the CEO made a YouTube video apology and took ownership of the entire situation.

I hope you don't mind me telling your readers about a new channel they can use to directly communicate to a vast US audience quickly in such a situation - and no, it's not YouTube :-)

Newsforce Network is a new concept in PR. We just launched in July 2008. It's sort of a mashup between PR and advertising - we've taken the advertising infrastructure and replaced it with a PR placement. If you were a political party right now, and wanted to tell the world how hard you were working through the night/weekend, you could literally guarantee prominent placement on Newsweek, Washington Post, LATimes, Chicago Tribune and many other websites, just like turning on a light switch.

It doesn't replace earned media, certainly not. But it can help you get your version of the story out right away, which is particularly important in a crisis, and we'll extend the story for a full 30 days so you can keep reinforcing your position.

I noticed that your agency is appropriately using Flickr, blogs, social media and many of the other more advanced methods of outreach on the internet. Bravo! Not nearly enough agencies are fully embracing the opportunities yet, but we do see change in the wind. It seems like you might be early adopters of new products like Newsforce, Twitter, and Buzz Logic, which are giving more power and control to PR pros who want to create and grow conversations online.

Keep up the insights. I am really enjoying your posts!

Dana Todd
Newsforce, Inc.