Communication and Crisis
When an emergency situation occurs. it Is Imperative that communication begins immediately. This especially important when it will affect the population and health risks are Involved. Local, state, and federal governments may have to be notified, citizens in the affected areas will want information that you may not yet have. This papers purpose is to show the proper steps for effective communication and management In a crisis situation. Good afternoon everyone.
I am Jacqueline Allen, director of the Regional Emergency Management Offce for district 9. I have received several reports that the public water supplies of several towns in our region have become contaminated with a life- threatening biological agent. This type of crisis creates a very delicate situation as It poses an Immense danger to the towns people. up to this point In time several people have been taken to the emergency rooms because of this contamination. Right now we have no credible information regarding how the contamination occurred.
The symptoms to look for are; nausea, lung Irritation, skin rash, vomiting izziness, blurred vision, severe abdominal pain, and may in rare instances of the elderly or Infants because the Immune system is weak may cause death. Contingency procedures will be addressed within this organization and with the public without creating a panic. I will be holding a brief press conference within the next hour to assure the community that we are doing everything possible to get this crisis resolved.
In order to alleviate fear and put the public at ease, I will request that the Governor and Director of Water for this district Join me at this press conference. It Is my Job as the Emergency Management director to get all members of our team together and execute the plan we have In place for this situation. our communication group will put together the potential advantages and challenges associated with communicating inside and outside of the organization during this crisis. Differences In communication processes used In crisis situations and the best possible scenario for this one.
We will take advantage of the social media sites, however with caution so there Is proper use of the technology. A representative Is already on his way and hould arrive within the next hour from Tipton Communications to help us in our approach with crisis and media communication training. They will coach us on how we respond to negative television and radio broadcasts. Familiarize us on what we should say and what not to say. Inevitably there will be questions that we are not t without causing more damage.
Since this is a high profile media topic there will be times when we are boxed in and they will be aggressively pushing for news, we will be trained how to get away from the media without giving the impression of avoiding their questions. We must gain and keep the public’s trust. It has been suggested that we may hold a town meeting in a central location to all the contaminated areas in order to calm the public and show our concern for them and our willingness to tell them truthfully what is happening to correct this crisis situation.
It will be a challenge but I am confident that as we work through this we will make sure reports about the water are reassuring and that this matter is being handled. As the director of Regional Emergency Management the most important thing I don’t want is to cause panic. Adequate information will be given that satisfies both the media and the public. Ongoing research will provide us with information and knowledge of what has the caused the contamination and how we will proceed with containment.
A team from the Environmental Protection Agency is already in the various areas where contaminated water was reported along with teams from Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As findings come in we will continue to communicate information to the media and public. The media will focus on the things that create fear so using this type of open communication will assure the public we are not trying to hide anything from them and that is our first and top priority.
The media can be a good friend, but it can also be our detrimental to our communication as they push for a Juicy story that ends up quite negative and generates panic instead of the procedures we are taking to fix the situation. We need to control the media to provide information on what the public can do to avoid the contamination, and what to do if they are contaminated. To make sure that everyone in the contaminated areas do not use the water we have ordered the Water turned off.
We have also contacted the Red Cross and Salvation Army to help get clean safe water to the public. At some point we may have to deny media information to protect the public. When communicating within the organization, public, and private sectors it is imperative that we release the proper information at the proper time so we do not cause panic within the organization or public. This crisis will also change our security at water collection areas.
We will test our water supplies more frequently with new and updated equipment to monitor safeness, mandatory training for employees working in those jobs, materials that keep up to date records and are inspected on a regular basis. We ill also monitor the areas our water comes from all the way to pertinent facilities. Homeland Security advisors are ready to put new security plans into operation as soon as this is under control and the investigation is complete.
Although media took opportunities to hurt us in this crisis, they also helped us by getting the information out that we released to the public. There were situations where we could not answer their questions, but we also had times where the public could see our concern for their safety. We did not permit the impression that we were hiding information and hough we had to expect panic we were able to communicate in a way that avoided it. And as Coombs stated we avoided the use of the phrase “no comment” and the use of “uhms” or “uhs” and took the advice he gave to make direct eye contact (T.
Coombs, 2007). communication and actions we looked to the handling 3 Mile Island (1979). The technology we have today with social media did not exist then however the crisis team was able to get information to the media and public. Within hours of the incident both Journalists and the public had learned the vocabulary and spoke knowingly core over-heating, meltdowns, and rems. Through good communication they had been educated on the basics of nuclear energy production, radiation, and the potential outcomes of this emergency situation.
In that instance the media was credited for the fine Job they did without alarming the public. We have better and more far reaching tools through ways we can communicate through the media today; this however cannot be accomplished without excellent communication skills. Please pay attention to the experts from Tipton Communications, let them guide us so that we too can come through this crisis as well as the 3 Mile Island situation or better. Conclusion No organization is totally resistant to crisis so it is important to be prepared for one.
While crises begin as threatening and detrimental, having effective crisis management plans in place will minimize the damage and in some instances the organization will be stronger than before. After researching this paper it is my personal opinion that when a company “Steals the Thunder” (Arpan, Roskos- Ewoldsen, D. R. 2005) by releasing information prior to any news media or other sources release it results in higher credibility for the organization than allowing others to report first. Communication is the key to overcoming what may be perceived s the inability to handle the crisis.