It is so clear right now–based on recent drills and a very large scale incident we are involved in responding to right now–that the number one issue facing those in crisis or emergency communication is convoluted approvals. A comment I just received from someone in the field: “Spending thousands on porta potties is an instant decision, getting approval to do anything with public communication takes an act of the highest elected official.”
Of course, the importance is different, the long term impacts can be immense, the effect on reputations is significant. But all this cannot mean that those responsible for communicating in a large event should be so hampered in their ability to communicate clear simple facts about the event details and the response.
The real issue, as I mentioned here before, lies with Incident Commanders and even more with the executive leadership responsible for the response. It starts with policy. Do they want their PIOs and JIC to be the voice of the response? Then there is only one answer today: be fast, complete, transparent. Anything less than that–particularly on speed–will result in others speaking for the response. There is no middle ground here. Speak now or forever hold your peace.