Florida Media Luncheon Results in Tips for Crisis Communications Planning

by Julia Sotelo, Client Services Representative, BW Florida

Business Wire Florida held “CRISIS! Expect the Unexpected: Plan, Manage, & Respond,” a media luncheon for South Florida Professionals on March 30 hosted by JM Family Enterprises Inc. and moderated by Amy Wagner, former Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Global Communications of Burger King.

Panelists included:

Laura Vann, Public Relations Specialist,  Lynn University Marketing and Communication

Don Silver, Chief Operating Officer, Boardroom Communications

Elianne Gonzalez, Hispanic Press Officer,  Insurance Information Institute

Wayne K. Roustan, General Assignment Reporter,  South Florida Sun Sentinel

Laura Vann, Lynn University

Laura Vann, Lynn University

Laura Vann gave a moving presentation on the Lynn University Crisis following the aftermath of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which involved 12 students and two professors.

Vann discussed Lynn University’s unenviable circumstance of false information that reported some students were safe when in fact that was incorrect. The University acted quickly with a clarifying a press conference.

Don Silver opened the panel discussion with Crisis Management tips. Among them:

  • Deal with crisis immediately.  Seek a short term solution that will save time, grief, damage to your brand and the company.
  • Remind everybody, especially those that answer phones, who at the organization can speak on behalf of the company.
  • Know the media that covers your company. Understand their news cycles, how they work, what they need, and how they need it.
  • Monitor.  Keep Lexis/Nexis, Google and different news alerts active for your company, clients, brand names, etc.

Wayne K. Roustan shared 30 years of media expertise in covering crisis situations. His first insight:   how media are expected to do the impossible on multiple platforms. “It’s just non-stop feed the beast. So if the media knows when the news is coming they won’t pester you. You are controlling the situation.”

Elianne Gonzalez stated a common mistake organizations make during a crisis situation is that they forget to keep a printed copy of the Crisis Plan handy just in case the power goes out and/or loss of communication. She also pointed out the plan should include contact information for the company’s spokes persons.

Ibrey Woodall was on hand to share Business Wire’s Crisis Communications online tool. Woodall discussed a Darksite feature that allows communicators to prepare a crisis plan and implement it in the backend.

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