By Emma Leech, CIPR President,
There’s no doubt that we are living in an increasingly uncertain, volatile, and unpredictable world with the threat of terrorism casting a shadow that we live with from day to day.
As communicators, dealing with crisis is part of our day to day work. For many of us, though, crisis communications work is focused on reputational impact, a downturn in stock price, or unwanted negative press coverage. What if tomorrow’s crisis was an unknown? A terrorist threat, a hostile event, a cyber-attack, a bomb? Would we know what to do in those instances? Equally, do we know how to use communications effectively to seek to deter terrorists?
As author C.J.Redwine puts it: “Losing your head in a crisis is a good way to become the crisis”.
A new Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Guide, developed in partnership with the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) has been created to help. Crisis Management For Terrorist Related Events provides a valuable toolkit and essential reading for practitioners and includes lessons learnt as well guidance on planning and preparing.
The most difficult crisis communications piece I was ever involved in was dealing with the impact of riots in Bradford (twice). It was difficult, complex, draining and emotional. The thing that stays with me is that a real crisis touches real lives. It’s about people, their safety, and the impact that events outside their control have on their everyday lives, often for years to come.
Communications in a crisis need focus, clarity and empathy. We must remain calm, coordinated and consistent.
When I look at the major incidents that the very many excellent communications professionals working in our emergency services deal with day to day, I have nothing but admiration. Their experiences and learning, and that of many other professionals, have helped to shape this publication. Thanks also go out to the authors and CIPR members – Sarah Pinch Chart.PR, FCIPR MIoD, Dan Gerrella Dip CIPR, Chart.PR, MCIPR and Claire Spencer, FCIPR, DipCam and consultant to CPNI.
The very thing about a crisis is that its often unpredictable but that doesn’t mean that you can’t prepare. Do something to start that process now, download the guide for yourself.
Emma Leech is Director of Marketing and Advancement for Loughborough University.