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Crisis Communications Training: After 9-11 ALA Midwinter Meeting New Orleans, Louisiana January 20, 2002 Prepared by Howard Opinsky, Weber Shandwick.

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Presentation on theme: "Crisis Communications Training: After 9-11 ALA Midwinter Meeting New Orleans, Louisiana January 20, 2002 Prepared by Howard Opinsky, Weber Shandwick."— Presentation transcript:

1 Crisis Communications Training: After 9-11 ALA Midwinter Meeting New Orleans, Louisiana January 20, 2002 Prepared by Howard Opinsky, Weber Shandwick

2 Today’s Agenda Objective: To learn how to identify a crisis and how to communicate effectively to end the crisis with your library’s reputation intact. What is crisis communications Share examples of library crises How to deal with a crisis Tough Q&A role play How you can get prepared now

3 You Might Be In A Crisis If... Natural disaster Criminal acts - bombs, computer hacking, kidnapping Employee/Volunteer/Library User actions Accidents Sexual/racial discrimination or harassment Violence Violations of law or library policies Sabotage

4 You Might Be In A Crisis If... Legal/government action – investigations, regulations, law enforcement Financial actions – funding, endowments, embezzlement Special interest group opposition – protests, boycotts Sudden management changes

5 Issues v. Crisis Issue Early warnings Sufficient time to develop strategies No immediate harm or disruption to business

6 Issues v. Crisis Crisis Imminent threat to ”business as usual” Imminent threat to institution Media attention – either immediate or potential Possible harm to individuals or property

7 Top Signs You’re In A Crisis The media are knocking at the door Rumors are afloat News may leak at any time The library’s reputation is potentially at stake Lives are threatened Opponents and even some friends are criticizing actions

8 Elements Of A Crisis Damage Interruption Instability Intense scrutiny Decision time

9 It’ll Never Happen Here A crisis may happen anywhere -- anytime High profile libraries are more susceptible to some crisis Bad things CAN happen to good libraries New threats develop regularly -- be aware



12 Why Practice Smart Crisis Management? Bad news travels fast Media thrive on bad news Preserve library reputation Smart crisis management is far simpler than rebuilding a damaged reputation

13 The Publics Tell Me The Truth, Give Me The Facts – And I’ll Decide You’re A Great Library! + I Have Lost My Trust In You –

14 What Works Openly and quickly share the facts with the public Accept responsibility when you are at fault Prepare for crises and you may avoid them Show you care

15 Messages That Work Facts Concern Commitment Explanation of actions

16 Crisis Management Anticipation and prevention Preparation Incident management Post-incident analysis Recovery It’s over!

17 The Crisis Response Team Library leader Key librarians and staff Trustees representative Volunteers representative Key friends of the library Communications staff Legal

18 Keys To Navigating A Crisis Consider, above all other factors, the health/safety of visitors, employees, public and community Gather all facts as rapidly as possible Immediately notify -- and maintain contact with -- appropriate local authorities ( Police, Fire, etc.) Notify legal advisors when appropriate

19 Keys To Navigating A Crisis Maintain records of all proceedings Encourage candid discussion of solutions Communicate quickly and fully with one another and public Develop answers to predictable questions

20 More Keys to Navigating a Crisis Monitor events and adapt as necessary Lead and facilitate investigation Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”

21 The Internet in a Crisis Your Web site Add crisis news promptly Consider a “dark website” to activate quickly in extreme situations Internet Monitor news reports, specific sites and chat rooms Monitor incoming e-mail closely

22 Identify Your Audiences Library Users Employees Community Government Media Others

23 Communications Goals in a Crisis Protect your library’s reputation Reduce tension Demonstrate commitment to values Communicate promptly and continuously to maintain control of flow of information End the crisis

24 Communications Procedures Make judgement about crisis Develop talking points/holding statements Centralize incoming calls to appropriate spokespeople Respond as rapidly as possible to media calls

25 Communications Procedures Make announcements promptly, unless special circumstances exist Communicate with each audience directly Cancel events as appropriate Update website regularly Monitor media coverage

26 Questions to Expect What caused the accident? What is the library procedure to handle such an incident? Will there be an investigation? What is being done to mitigate the risk? Has this happened before? If so, when? What is the library policy on this matter?

27 Rumor Control Take everything you hear seriously, but with a grain of salt Investigate rumors before you comment Correct wrong information quickly and thoroughly Don’t pass on rumors

28 Spokespeople Limit number of spokespeople Select spokespeople with credibility for their audiences Use most senior leader to take accountability Training is vital

29 Developing your Messages Clarify your objective Organize your facts Anticipate the questions Know what you want to say Know what you don’t want to say

30 Your Key Messages 2 - 3 Key Messages Facts Concern Commitment Action Anecdotes, Examples, Illustrations

31 When Risk and Fear are Issues Listen Speak clearly and with concern Avoid unreasonable comparisons and statistics Tell what you know, what you don’t know Explain actions

32 Reminders for Spokespeople Prepare Know your audience personalize your message Be honest, be frank, be open Speak clearly and with compassion

33 More Key Reminders Develop your messages Be succinct Anticipate questions Eye contact Speak with one voice

34 And, Remember Know what you want to say…and what you don’t There’s no such thing as “off the record” Don’t speculate When you don’t know the answer, tell the truth, say “I don’t know”

35 Q & A Role Play


37 The Crisis Team Establish a crisis response team and establish roles/responsibilities Develop and maintain extensive contact list for team Establish notification system Meet periodically to discuss potential crisis and develop strategies Designate and train spokespersons

38 Communications Prepare audience lists (media, stakeholders, friends) Reach out to media regularly Have your policy guidelines and institutional facts updated and available Assess potential crises and draft talking points/ statements

39 Communications Seek opportunities to neutralize potential flash points Monitor news for potential problems Conduct drills

40 Crisis Rules to Live By Do no more harm Be prepared Honesty is STILL the best policy

41 Howard S. Opinsky Howard Opinsky is a Managing Director in the Washington, D.C., office of Weber Shandwick. He specializes in media relations, crisis communication, and communication strategy for a variety of clients including corporations, trade associations, and public policy advocacy organizations. His clients have included Microsoft, General Electric, the American Chemistry Council, and the Government of Colombia. Prior to joining the firm, Opinsky distinguished himself as a spokesman for local, state, and national political campaigns. He served as National Press Secretary for U.S. Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) presidential campaign. Opinsky holds a B.A. in Political Communication from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

42 Crisis Communications Training: After 9-11 New Orleans, Louisiana January 20, 2002

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