After finishing Neil Swidey’s 2-part story in The Boston Globe Magazine last week - “Trapped Under The Sea” Ciprofloxacin 500mg, , the untold story of two divers who died in the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) Deer Island Treatment Plant Outfall Tunnel - I was immediately transported back 10 years to one of the seminal events of my public relations career, making me reflect on how much crisis communication has evolved over the past decade.
On July 21, 1999 I was sitting at my desk at the MWRA in the Charlestown Navy Yard writing a mundane press release about summertime water conservation, when the phone rang. Cipro 200 mg, It was my boss, Executive Director Doug MacDonald, and he sounded uncharacteristically shaken. There had been a terrible accident on Deer Island, he said, price cipro, and that I needed to get there fast to handle the press…
As the 25 year-old spokesman of the MWRA in 1999, I personified the classic “Flak” of the time. I wrote press releases, Buy cipro online no prescription, nurtured media relationships, proactively issued good news, spun the bad news and reacted to the unexpected accordingly. I carried a pager and a basic cell phone (used sparingly for outgoing calls), and sent press releases over the fax machine, ciprofloxacin 500mg. I had email, but since most media members didn’t, cipro hexidine, it was fairly useless. The internet was several years old, but it was really still just a novelty. Cipro diverticulitis, In 1999, the dissemination of news was still solely done by traditional news outlets. As a spokesman, controlling the media meant “controlling the message”. Ciprofloxacin 500mg, From a public relations standpoint, The Deer Island Outfall Tunnel crisis was handled perfectly. Pre-set protocols that had long been established were set into motion – notifications to key personnel were made quickly, epididymitis cipro, a communications center was set up on the site of the incident, accurate and up-to-date information was disseminated to key communications personnel, and a single spokesperson for all public information was set (me). Cifran 500, Within an hour of the incident, we had established control of the information and were in a position to release that information as we saw fit in a well thought-out, clear, concise manner. If the press wanted the story, cipro xr 500mg, they had to go through me...and they did.
Fast forward to 2009…If this same incident occurred today and the protocol we had established in 1999 was still all that was in place, I cringe to think of all the loose ends that would be flying around. What had been an airtight crisis communication protocol at the time would be seriously flawed today, ciprofloxacin 500mg. Cipro for strep, Advances in communications technology, and people’s incredible access to it today in comparison to a decade ago, has created a playing field so drastically different for a Public Relations professional that it’s not even comparable. The internet, which was just emerging in 1999, cipro mexico, has become a critical conduit for news, communications, commerce, Cipro strep, and social interaction. The internet has taken our vast world and shrunken it down to the size of an iPhone. Cell phones are no longer clunky mobile telephones with a single use and purpose. Today, “Smart Phones” are multi-faceted portable communications tools that not only allow users the ability to connect with each other anywhere, at any time, drinking on cipro, through voice or SMS; they enable users instant access to the internet and all of its mass communications tools. Ciprofloxacin 500mg, Armed with a Smart Phone, every citizen has become a source of news and information. Look no further than Janis Krums, the blogger who happened to be on the first ferry to arrive on the scene a few minutes after US Airways Flight 1549 had plunged into the Hudson River in New York City earlier this year. Cipro otic, Within ten minutes of the crash, Krums had used Twitter (and Twitpic) to post a photo of the downed plane with news of the crash and distributed that information to tens of thousands of people. It was roughly 30 minutes before the first news crew was even on the scene.
Controlling “the message” today as a PR professional no longer means controlling the press. Since everyone who has access to a computer is now a viable news source, it is now virtually impossible to completely control the message, ciprofloxacin 500mg. It is still possible, iv cipro, however, to mitigate the crisis and influence public opinion.
With that said, Cipro hc otic, I will share with you my Five Principles of Handling a Crisis in 2009 that will help you to minimize the damage of an unforeseen crisis and protect your company’s short-term and long-term interests:
- Prepare – Abraham Lincoln once said; “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Being prepared for a potential crisis situation is absolutely critical.
- Develop a set protocol that will be placed into motion as soon as an unforeseen crisis strikes. This protocol includes everything from a strategic contact list (eg - key decision makers, communications personnel & legal council) to the creation of a physical command center.
- Media train key personnel. Establish a spokesperson(s) for the company and have them work with a professional public relations professional (or firm) to receive the proper media training.
- Ciprofloxacin 500mg, Set up online monitoring tools. Every company should employ free online monitoring tools like Google Alerts and Tweet Grid, cipro 500 mg bid, or paid services like Radian6 and Cision. It is critical to monitor your brand online 24/7. Whether it’s a disgruntled employee smearing your company name on a blog or an online news article about a client or competitor, Cipro toxicity, monitoring the web is a necessary step towards protecting your brand’s reputation and to identify, or in some cases, avoid a crisis before it happens.
- Get the facts – Stay calm and keep your wits about you. While it is important to respond swiftly to a crisis, it is even more important not to make any rash or reflexive moves, enterococcus cipro. It is imperative to get all of the facts as quickly as possible from the most credible sources, ciprofloxacin 500mg. Before you can successfully handle a crisis, you need to understand what happened, how it happened and where your exposure lies.
- Be Proactive – Once you have all the facts, Cipro for cellulitis, it is imperative that you take a proactive approach to responding publicly. Avoid taking a defensive posture. Make sure that your stance and message is carefully crafted and delivered in a clear and concise manor. Avoid live interviews if possible and never, ever say “No Comment!” In the court of public opinion, cipro quinolone, “no comment” means “I’m guilty!” The most effective way to ensure that your response is clear is to issue a written statement attributed to your designated spokesperson. Ciprofloxacin 500mg, A statement should consist of a two to three sentences that can each stand alone. The statement should be conciliatory in tone and firm and decisive. Make it clear that you are aware of the incident, state your stance on the matter and ensure people that you will get to the bottom of it and take action.
- Monitor – Good intelligence is your greatest weapon for diffusing a crisis situation. Utilize your online monitoring tools, adjusting search terms as necessary, to monitor what people are saying about your company, what they are saying about the crisis itself, and how effective your response has been. This allows you to keep a virtual finger on the pulse of public opinion and enables you to uncover additional exposure that may warrant a response.
- Take Action – Whether the crisis has been averted or you’ve simply mitigated the fallout, it is important to publicly take steps to remedy the cause of the crisis and ensure that it will never happen again. Announce new policy, hire a consultant, or fire your CFO, ciprofloxacin 500mg. Whatever it is, make sure you announce it, so the public knows you intend to fix what broke.
While advances in communications technology and the advent of the “citizen journalist” have significantly added to the challenges faced by a crisis communicator, the key principles remain the same. Whether you own, manage or operate a company or public agency, you can be sure of one thing – you will inevitably be faced with a crisis situation. When you do, will you be prepared to handle it.
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About the author
Tom has more than 13 years of public relations and journalism experience. Before joining 451, Tom spent five years at Regan Communications in Boston, providing strategic communications for a wide range of local and national companies including Dunkin’ Donuts, New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc., RE/MAX of New England, Boston Celtics, Mix 98-5 (WBMX-FM), Boston magazine, Boston Herald, Boston’s Weekly Dig, Boston Wine Expo, Cask ‘n Flagon, Bluestone Holdings, Langer Broadcasting, and The Glynn Hospitality Group. Prior to Regan, Tom served as Public & Media Relations Manager at The Massachusetts Hospital Association and for three years as spokesman for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.
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Last Monday, our consumer public relations team attended a Publicity Club of New England panel about reputation and crisis management.
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Buy bactrim, As part of our latest installment in our 451 Heat Q&A series, we had the pleasure of speaking with Rick Clancy, the former Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for Sony Electronics, Inc.
Rick first began his career at Sony in 1990, and over the course of two decades, was instrumental in overseeing the public relations and corporate communications efforts for the entire electronics division. His role encompassed media and analyst relations, and product marketing and promotions, as well as executive, employee, environmental and crisis communications initiatives, bactrim for staph. Rick was also one of the first communications executives to embrace the web as a new channel for brand communications and customer support. He now lives in the San Diego area and remains a communications advisor and social media advocate. You can find out more on Rick's LinkedIn page.
We spoke at length with Rick about his career at Sony, and in particular, his pioneering work in implementing social media and online community management into the company’s external communications and PR and marketing campaigns, buy bactrim.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your career in corporate communications at Sony. Bactrim dc, What were your PR and marketing duties like when you first started with the company and how did they evolve throughout the 90’s.
As part of the corporate communications teams at Sony during the early days our focus was primarily on media relations. Obviously the basics, press outreach, press releases, product reviews and the like, generic name for bactrim. Buy bactrim, Eventually, this evolved into more of a focus on stakeholder outreach and management—the analyst community—and then global communications planning. With the emergence of social networking, our focus turned to corporate public relations from a much broader perspective. The bigger, faster, Bactrim prostate, more integrated world forced us to become much more customer centric and conversational.
Q: Do you miss the days when traditional media outreach, ad placement and tradeshow marketing were the be-all and end-all of a sound communications and marketing strategy. Do additional channels create additional challenges that outweigh potential benefits?
I don’t miss the old days at all. There is a tremendous opportunity for PR professionals to be at the forefront of engagement through direct communications with customers, buy bactrim. All PR pros should feel passionately about this evolution because the returns and rewards will be great.
Along those lines, bactrim used for, this groundswell of channel development has certainly provided plenty of benefits. We can break down several internal walls and be more communicative with all of our different departments—human resources, legal, customer service. Bactrim otitis media, Externally, companies should recognize the importance of engagement and embrace a commitment to responsiveness over other potential challenges or issue.
Buy bactrim, Q: When did you first recognize the role that the web could have in facilitating the way you communicated with the media, customers and employees.
Well to set the stage, about four years ago was when we first noticed an increasing amount of online conversation were taking place about Sony that we were in no way involved in. These conversations discussed our technology, products, bactrim for strep throat, customer service and even management. At this point, we were just monitoring and not engaging. Over time, Bactrim for lice, our communications team began to recognize that there was no value in remaining silent, and if there were areas where we could effectively engage with people, and provide some help, we should give it a shot.
Q: How did your team begin to put the wheels in motion with an online engagement plan, buy bactrim. Was their hesitancy from management about this approach.
Our approach transitioned from initial monitoring and tracking to assessment of the conversations, bactrim dialysis. We actually incorporated assessment because there was hesitancy from both upper management and our customer service team, so presenting this information helped us to demonstrate why we needed to respond in the first place. It took a few presentations, but it became clear that Sony was ready to step up and address this stuff, Bactrim ds staph infection, engage and just become more involved online. Buy bactrim, Once we were approved, we began to engage certain third party communities—message boards, sites like EndGadget and TechCrunch, Consumerist, green blogs, “mommy blogs”, and all sorts of tech blogs. We then started our own blogs (I volunteered to become Sony’s first corporate blogger), and eventually created full-fledge communities around our product line through micro-sites Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Q: How did you specifically interact with these communities. Did you put protocols in place that dictated who would engage, bactrim forte uses, and how they would do it.
At first, we interacted with the external communities by engaging with editors. Eventually, we took the gloves off, introduced ourselves and responded via comments, message board posts, etc, buy bactrim.
These decisions were generally made on a case by case basis—sometimes the communications team would address an issue directly, Bactrim ear infection, but on occasion, we would bring in other experts from different areas of the company to offer their take. Since our team was more experienced with third-party communications, and we did not have the experience of communicating directly with consumers, it was also helpful to involve the customer service team. That said, bactrim manufacturer, we quickly realized that you need to treat these conversations the same way you would treat a face-to-face interaction with a customer.
Q: Tell us about the launch of Sony’s first community blog. Buy bactrim, Was there a lot of management push-back and confusion with this move. Did you notice immediate results. Any highlights?
I made a point of it to infuse my personality into the blog. Oral bactrim, I introduced myself as Rick Clancy, not just a Sony representative. There was some sensitivity involved with a flack serving as the face of the company, but I was very upfront about my role and with my intentions for the blog. Over time, management gave me full reign to develop the blog and use it as I saw fit, buy bactrim. I began blogging about a wide range of industry issues that I had an interest in, and had experience dealing with but I would also bring in guests from across Sony to get them involved, bactrim suppression. This kept things topical when I didn’t quite have the expertise to cover something myself.
I also made a point of it to develop trust through the blog. I recall blogging about Sony in comparison to Microsoft and Apple and other brands. Buy bactrim, I compared and contrasted products, and addressed their competitive sensibilities. It wasn’t all just all Sony, Bactrim ds generic, all the time.
One of the highlights was definitely the Sony blog tour. I would travel to different Sony retail stores across the country to set-up shop and meet with customers, answer questions, communicate produce updates, and assist where necessary, bactrim sulfa. Each store visit turned into a great post. An event like that really represents the total integration of social media, PR and direct marketing, buy bactrim.
Q: So, did you first foresee these new forms of communications (your community blog, Twitter, Septra bactrim, YouTube, etc) as forums for customer service and collaboration, or for PR/Marketing. Where do you see them now?
I certainly viewed these channels as a forum for PR/Marketing professionals, but the more we conversed with people online, I began to recognize the enormous potential for customer service professionals here, bactrim ointment. Customer service-types should embrace the opportunity to step up and blog, engage with customers like they would offline, and merge with PR pros to create a multi-faceted partnership based on responsiveness and added-value.
Q: Then who should lead the way with “social media strategies?” Should it be left in the hands of specialists, Bactrim bronchitis, or should PR and marketing practitioners excel at understanding these channels and deploying the techniques necessary to optimize them for communications. Buy bactrim, Because in the end, the message is still the most important component of these conversations, PR people are in a great position to lead the way in the online space. While customer service pros can definitely redefine their roles here, it’s the PR pros who have an awareness of the issues, a sensitivity to them, and an understanding of their relation to the firm as a whole. In PR, we’ve learned to listen, reflect on different points of view, and advocate on behalf of our company and client, and those fundamentals are all in play on the web. We’ll see these channels open up a bit more across a company, but PR teams, as well as agencies will play the lead role in monitoring, providing guidance for structure, strategy and authenticity.
-Jeff Benanto (@jbenanto) .
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