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Weathering the Storm: First Steps to Managing Crisis in Your Workplace

Join us as PR pros Debra Schindler and Jeffrey Davis, APR share practical tips for crisis communications planning and strategy. Debra and Jeff will also share …

› Do’s and don’ts based on their real-life experiences.
› Elements of a crisis communications plan.
› How to train spokespeople for difficult interviews.

and more …

› Importance of defined roles for your team members.
› Ways to work with the media and the message.
› How to recover from the crisis and restore trust.

Event details:
Date/Time: Thursday, April 30 | 8 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Place: MedStar Union Memorial Hospital
Auxillary Classroom in the 33rd Street building
201 E. University Parkway, Baltimore MD 21218

Registration opening soon!

About our presenters.

Debra A. Schindler
Regional Director Media & Public Relations
Baltimore MedStar Hospitals

Learn more about Debra on LinkedIn

Jeffrey A. Davis, APR
Managing Partner
Van Eperen

Learn more about Jeff on LinkedIn

Staying Ahead of the Spread – PR and COVID-19

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

By Jeffrey Davis, APR

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) elevated to global pandemic status, the phase of precautionary wait-and-see measures has passed, including for your communications strategy.

Particularly for organizations on the front lines – from seniors housing to tourism to major conferences – how and when you connect about the outbreak is imperative to fostering reassurance and trust.

A public health crisis doesn’t have to send you into a messaging tailspin. Here are rapid response tips on how to prepare:

Employees First
Focus first on internal communications to emphasize safety and share the policies and actions your company is actively taking.

Think beyond a single all-staff email that may go unread and opt for over-communication. Coordinate with HR to use all the available avenues like signs in common areas, social media, infographics and videos.

At our Baltimore office the management team has sent a reassuring visual message with small actions like doubled soap products in the restrooms and wipes and sanitizing cleaner stations in the common areas.

Employees need to know if/how you are encouraging a change in routines such as using technology to decrease unnecessary human contact. Let people know if you endorse work-from-home to prevent contamination and if you have any updated sick leave policies.

Now is also an OK time to highlight how you are helping any coronavirus response efforts, financially or otherwise, and to encourage other companies to follow suit.

Consider the Source
Skip the politics and rhetoric by going straight to trusted institutions, staffed with expert immunologists and doctors, as sources for facts and recommendations.

At the top of the list are the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the World Health Organization.

Remember to keep the tone of your communications strong but temperate, promoting awareness and not panic.

Consult Your Crisis Communications Plan
This is the moment to put your crisis PR plan into motion.

Begin with the crisis communications basics: identification of team members; assignment of tasks; updates to template statements; and verification of current contact information including access to social media/passwords.

Next, look at the possible scenarios specific to your organization and plan accordingly. These could include leadership or employees diagnosed with COVID-19; travel policies and restrictions; impact on production or delivery of products; and questions about executive level decision-making which could be called into question.

Industry organizations are helping members with communications, so take advantage of their expertise.

For example, the U.S. Travel Association posted a holding statement, a set of talking points and a social media guide with sample posts and images specific to coronavirus. One of U.S. Travel’s messages: “The challenge in moments of public health concern is to react properly to the situation, but to not overreact.”

If you delayed or canceled an event you will need to announce the decision quickly. Even more important: if you elected to proceed with an event your messaging is extremely important as the reasoning behind the decision will receive extra attention and scrutiny.

Prepare but Preserve Your Narrative
One of your employees, a family member, or neighboring company could become infected or impacted. If word gets out and connects you in any way to the outbreak you must be prepared for questions – both internal and external – about policies you have in place and the steps you took. You need to have an answer.

Weave into your messaging how you prepared for and came out strong after SARS, Ebola, H1N1 and similar outbreaks in past years. This demonstrates your preparedness and confidence in weathering another outbreak.

At the same time, don’t allow COVID-19 to take over your narrative. Be proactive and ready to answer questions but remember you have broader organizational messages to deliver. Make sure this new topic is part of your ongoing spokesperson prep and is included in your media training exercises.

If you need assistance in messaging, crisis communications planning or getting the word out we are ready to help.

Jeffrey Davis is managing partner with Van Eperen, a Board Member of PRSA Maryland, and  Baltimore editor of Capitol Communicator.

Is all trust lost? How to recover from a brand damaging crisis

Submitted by Jennifer Donahoe, PR & Social Media Account Director, Planit

On June 4, 2019, shocking and gruesome undercover video broke showing animal abuse at a dairy farm in Indiana where the popular milk brand Fairlife produces its milk.

Originally posted on social media, the video quickly went viral and national media and local media across every major market in the country covered the story. The words “horrifying,” “torture,” and “disturbing” became synonymous with the Fairlife brand.

The result? The brand’s perception was immediately damaged and public trust tanked, with customers banning the product, and chains such as Jewel-Osco, Casey’s Foods, Family Express and more pulled Fairlife milk from shelves. In response, not surprisingly, the “where to buy” section of Fairlife’s website was taken down.

As communicators, there’s a lot we can learn from this crisis. When Fairlife responded, how Fairlife responded, and most importantly, what Fairlife did in reaction to the crisis, will all be discussed on July 18 at PRSA Maryland’s conference session on How a Crisis Can Become an Opportunity.

You will learn:

  • How to prepare for a crisis
  • Rules of effective crisis response
  • What works – and what doesn’t work – in a crisis
  • Key messages to communicate, regardless of the crisis
  • The most important question to ask in a crisis
  • When to respond in a crisis

We’ll discuss all this and more, analyzing major recent crises to help you prepare for the foreseen – and unforeseen – so that your business or clients are ready no matter when or how a crisis strikes.

The reality is a crisis can happen at anytime to any company. If you’re ready to prepare and protect your client or brand, this session is for you.

Click here for more information on this session and more!

Crisis Communication Workshop Attracts Sell-Out Crowd

If there’s one topic that communicators want to stay current with, it’s crisis communication. PRSA Maryland’s workshop on crisis communication, which was held at Baltimore Research on September 22, 2017, attracted pros from near and far. We packed the house with PRSA members and non-members from as far away as Harrisburg, PA.

Speakers included Jeff Davis, APR, Van Eperen, and Dan Dunne, APR, Erickson Living. They shared their expertise on the topic and provided real-life examples of crises they managed for their organizations. Attendees walked away with proven strategies, tips, and recommendations they could implement for their companies’ crisis communications plans. 

One workshop attendee said, “I learned tangible strategies and tactics to include in my crisis communications plans plus best practices for counseling clients through a crisis.”

Jeff Davis, APR, Van Eperen

Dan Dunne, APR, Erickson Living

Inside the Crisis Communications Command Center: What You Need To Know

Inside the Crisis Communications Command Center: What You Need To Know

We’ll go beyond the do’s and don’ts of crisis communications planning and take a deeper, behind-the-scenes look into real crisis situations. Hear from two experienced PR professionals who will share real-world (off the record, please) examples of how actual crisis situations were handled.

Some made headlines, others did not. Not all went well. Is your plan still in a three-ring binder? Does it incorporate social media? During the first segment our presenters will walk through crisis planning steps, including actual examples of what to include in your plan. The real-world segment will give attendees an insider¹s view into what it¹s really like to balance the needs of management with the demands of the media – and those on social media.

In this three-hour workshop, you¹ll find out:

  • How to convert your paper-based crisis plan to one accessible via mobile device
  • The most important – yet challenging – aspect of crisis response
  • Common roadblocks by your own executives and ways to overcome them
  • A written plan is just the start; what staff skills and training are needed?
  • Tips on locating your crisis command center and what you¹ll need there
  • How to be ready for your crisis to be live-tweeted
  • Spokespeople and their roles and preparation

Our Workshop Presenters:

You’ll hear from Dan Dunne, APR, of Erickson Living, an expert in media training and crisis communications. Dunne has many years of experience in public relations and crisis communications. Joining him will be Jeffrey Davis, APR, managing director of the Baltimore office of Van Eperen and a former journalist whose crisis PR experience includes allegations of sexual harassment against an organization¹s leader, issues management in connection with Duke lacrosse case, and a tragic death at a national ski resort. Click here to read more about our presenters.

*Registration will be limited to 30.

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors