The reputation of your business or organization is one of your greatest assets.  How you
respond to a crisis can turn an emergency into a long-term disaster for your business.

If a crisis occurs, does you organization have a designated public information officer?

Do you have public relations and social media plans and policies in place?

How (and what) should you communicate with your employees, board members, customers, news media, and the general public?

With support from Wisconsin Emergency Management, DRCV offered this free seminar on private-sector communications and public relations during a crisis, including a mock cyber-attack scenario to explore strategies of how an organizations might respond to such a crisis.

A few lessons learned from the seminar include:
  • In a vacuum of reliable information, the public will make up its own information to fill the void.  Early in a crisis, it is okay to start with basic, short messages to fill this void.  Provide more information and details later once you better understand circumstances. 

  • Provide a single, consistent, and truthful message from a trusted source.  Be empathetic and don't displace blame.  You may have a different spokesperson for different audiences (e.g., press/public, employees, social media, board of directors). 

  • Have a single point-of-contact for media and public relations.  The best person to be your public information officer (PIO) is not always the highest "ranking" person in your organization.  PIO training is available through FEMA. 

  • Social media can be very beneficial during a crisis, but can also create new problems.  Have a social media policies.  Identify a person (and a back-up person) dedicated to using and monitoring social media for your organization.

  • Be proactive.  Develop a crisis communications/P.R. plan.  Have press release templates that can be quickly customized during a crisis.  Meet your local media contacts now and have their contact information up-to-date.

  • Be organized before accepting donations and volunteers.  There can be liabilities involved.  It is okay to not accept volunteers on Day 1 after a crisis.

  • Be smart and pick your "battles", when it comes to public relations.  Can't respond to everyone poor social media review, etc.  There is a difference between an issue and a crisis.

  • Depending on the crisis, the press appreciates pictures or a safe location from which pictures can be taken.

Attached below for download you will find the event agenda and presentations:
  • Seminar agenda
  • What is a Public Information Officer presentation (E.C. County Emgy Mgmt)
  • Public-Sector Approach to Public Relations (Barron County Sheriff & Public Health)
  • Developing a Public Relations Program (Epicosity) 
  • Media Perspectives from the Chetek Tornado (WQOW)
  • Cyber-Attack Exercise Scenario (WEM)
  • Event Findings and Participant Highlights (hotwash prepared following the event)
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