Tag Archives: PRSA

See you at PRSA? Speaking on Reputation Resilience

If you happen to be going to the PRSA International Conference in Washington DC this coming weekend, I’d like to cordially invite you to my presentation on Sunday afternoon. I’ll be speaking on Reputation Resilience–why some companies are destroyed by crises and why others come through just fine or even in better shape than before. This topic was submitted and accepted prior to the gulf spill which started on April 20, but having been involved in the communications of that event I’ll be discussing BP from a reputation resilience standpoint as well.

Also, during the exhibit hours I’ll be hanging out around the PIER booth so please do stop by and say hi.

PRSA Conference Keynote Bob Garfield–hitting all the right notes

I’ve read Bob Garfield for years and am sorry I am missing the PRSA conference this year–first year in many that I’ve missed it. The report of Garfield’s keynote is right on target in my mind and very necessary for crisis communicators. The message is simple–it’s a completely different world out there.

Here’s a key quote:

“The digital revolution isn’t some kind of news magazine headline,” he said. “It’s an actual revolution yielding revolutionary changes including, but not limited to, the disintegration of the media and marketing infrastructures that have worked in perfect symbiosis for almost four centuries.”

The “disintegration of the media and marketing infrastructures…” “perfect symbiosis for almost four centuries.”

On the one hand, what we are seeing is unprecedented on a scale of Gutenberg. On the other hand, it is following predictable patterns. When I was growing up in mid-50s, there were a handful of magazines that existed and were read by millions: Time, Life, Look, Good Housekeeping, etc. By the time I was teaching in the mid-70s, many were gone and were replaced by hundreds of thousands of much more special interest publications. By the time I was in business in the mid to late 80s, I was publishing 5 very special interest monthly magazines myself and by now there were millions. Today, there are hundreds of millions–but increasingly using the internet for publishing rather than paper, ink and the US Postal Service. Is publishing dead because Life and Look are gone forever? Heck no! Publishing is alive and well and being done by almost everyone who has the slightest desire to put words on a screen.

PR isn’t dead–the opportunities are more pressing than ever. Crisis communication isn’t dead just because the game has shifted from talking to a few reporters with massive audiences to talking to massive audiences who talk to a few reporters. We’ve just gone from control to engagement, from speaking to participation.

 

PRSA Teleseminar on Pandemic Flu communications

It was my privilege today to present a teleseminar for PRSA on Pandemic Flu communications. My co-presenter was Stephen Davidow of Davidow Communications out of Chicago–an experienced professional in healthcare crisis communication.

Content for this can be found at PRSA, but I wanted to share a brief overview of the discussion:

1) This was a great dry run–not that the risk is gone, but the fact that it has not yet become overwhelming gives everyone an opportunity to learn valuable lessons in preparation for a pandemic that experts all predict is all but certain.

2) While media interest has waned, the need to communicate has not. Day by day the numbers grow, significantly. But, for most of the media, the story has run its course. For communicators, it simply means that the job goes on long after mainstream media is on to more immediate or exciting stories.

3) Make necessary connections now. There are a lot of people you need to work with in a major event such as this. Don’t wait until it hits to build your contact lists and your relationships. Get to know them now–hospitals, health dept officials, gov responders, major employers, etc., etc.

4) Address IT needs. The right technology is critical. It needs to:

- allow communicator control over web content and pushing info out to audiences–not a multistep webmaster process

- facilitate push, pull and interactive communication management–managing multiple inquiries is increasingly critical

- provide means of pushing info out via multiple modes–text, voice, websites, RSS, email, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube–all and more are now important

- provide for work collaboration to enable social distancing–your team may have to stay at home to protect themselves and others. Technology is now readily available to allow full communicator collaboration. In a pandemic, it becomes essential.

5) Constant info push–the best way to control the influx of questions is to keep a constant stream of updates going out. Not only that, in this age of Twitter and instant social media, it is expected. Press releases are out of date and largely unnecessary. Short, continuous information releases are now required.

6) Your people are the critical path–plans matter, technology matters, but you need to train, select, prepare and staff deep enough to sustain a long event and one in which it is likely that some if not many of your key players will not be available.

There was more that was covered, but you’ll have to do the download at PRSA. Thanks to Judy Voss of PRSA and Stephen Davidow for the opportunity to work on this.

Reflections on PRSA Conference and upcoming Homeland Defense Risk and Crisis Conference

Just returned home from speaking at the PRSA International Conference in Detroit and now preparing my comments for my presentation at the Homeland Defense Journal Risk and Crisis Communication conference in DC on Nov 3. A few reflections.

The PRSA conference struck me as a strong contrast to the conference in New York a couple of years ago with Donald Trump as the keynoter. It was one of the most disgusting displays of arrogance, chauvinism, ego, and all the distorted values that too many in our profession and nation were pursuing at that time. The world has changed since then and maybe it is a reflection on that that the opening session on Sunday noon at the conference in Detroit started with an absolutely marvelous concert of gospel music by the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Detroit’s gospel choir. They received a standing ovation after nearly every song.

The keynoter was Craig Newmark of Craigslist. Aside from a bit too much partisan politics mixed in for my taste, Craig’s message was simple and clear: live your life in a way that does good–and you will do well. When taking actions, think first about how you would like to be treated if the roles were reversed. Yes, the good old fashioned golden rule. Craig’s job–he is one of many customer service reps at Craigslist. He answers hundreds of emails from users helping them solve their problems. The humility and rejection of greed and pride he demonstrated were in absolute and stark contrast to the pride, arrogance, lust and overweening ambition of Mr. Trump. Congrats to PRSA for an outstanding conference!

Another speaker whom I unfortunately missed was Mitch Albom–one of my favorite writers. In penance I suppose, I picked up Albom’s latest bestseller “For one more day” at the Detroit airport. I’m sure the guy in the seat next to me thought this guy dressed up like a business person next to him must have been nuts since I blubbered my way through a good part of the book. And when I got to Chicago for my flight to Seattle I called my mom to see how she was doing. Those of you who have read the book will understand.

I think the 120 or so who went to the presentation by Pat Philbin and his former associate Aaron Walker will be talking about this for months. Pat is the former head of external affairs at FEMA and Aaron Walker was the director’s press secretary–both caught up in the Oct 2007 “fake news conference.” (disclosure: Pat now is our Senior Vice President). It was a most lively, spirited and heart-felt discussion. I think everyone came away with a strong sense that we live in a world in which reputations and lives can be destroyed in an instant, sacrificed on the altar of compelling headlines and higher ratings. I think what was also learned by many PRSA members is how quick even those of us who are in this business are to believe what we read or see in the news. There was a sense of shame that we ought to know better.

My takeaway from this was similar to the contrast between Trump and the Gospel Choir and Craig Newmark–it comes down to character. In this case, honest mistakes made by smart, hardworking communicators of exceptional integrity. But taken down none-the-less. But their character showed through–and ultimately there are few things more valued or honored.

Oh, and by the way–my presentation focused on the risks to building trust in an era dominated by instant news and the drive to build audiences at anyone’s expense. If interested, you can download my very visual presentation by going this page on the PIER website.

And if you are interested in a great conference talking about mega trends in risk and crisis communication for the 21st century, I think there is still time to sign up.

Andrew Cohen's ridiculous attack on PR generates strong response from PRSA

I didn’t see the commentary from Andrew Cohen on CBS on June 1 but apparently he, a lawyer I might snidely comment, has concluded that every PR professional is a professional liar. His proof appears to be Scott McLellan.

This commentary resulted in a vigorous response by the PRSA on behalf of the profession. This video message from PRSA Chair and CEO Jeffrey Julin addresses the question head-on. The good thing about all this, and for which we must thank Mr. Cohen, is to raise the issue of honest, transparency and credibility to an important level of discussion. And while I appreciate Mr. Julin’s vigorous and respectful defense, I admire him for not falling into the strong temptation of pointing out that Mr. Cohen’s attack might be considered a case of the pot calling the kettle black.  After all, in the surveys on trust and credibility that I have seen, the public still considers attorneys one notch below PR folks–both near the bottom unfortunately.

PRSA Teleseminar on Building Trust

I am very pleased to have been invited by the Professional Development group of PRSA to present my presentation “Building Trust in Media Maelstrom” as a teleseminar on May 1. This is similar to the presentation I did at last year’s PRSA International Conference that appeared to be very well received.

I’d love to have you join us on the call so if interested, here is how to register.

As the teaser for this seminar, PRSA says those who attend will learn:

The two essentials of building trust.
The three drivers of today’s communications and why ignoring them is a recipe for failure.
The four critical steps of crisis communication planning.

If you are a frequent crisisblogger reader, you can probably identify each of these items. In fact, I’ll send a free copy of my book Now Is Too Late2 to any crisisblogger reader who correctly identifies the two, three and four “secrets” referenced above. Hope to see you on the call.