Today’s guest blog post comes from our partners at Edelman, the global public relations firm, to help share tips for crafting effective messages during urgent events.

Leaders today are held to especially high standards as community safety and fiscal health are often at risk. In this era of 24/7 online information, the heads of government agencies, education institutions and business must maintain constant communication through a variety of channels – voicemail, text, email, social media, websites and news media – in order to effectively reach everyone in the community, wherever they may be, in a matter of minutes.

A crisis can happen at any time, from a hurricane, tornado or wildfire, to a public health outbreak or safety threat. Leaders must have a crisis communications and response strategy in place and ready to implement for a variety of scenarios.  To help keep your community safe and connected, we have compiled the 7 critical steps to for communications planning.

  1. Identify potential threats and build out the likely scenarios; revisit and update this every 3 to 6 months
  2. Determine the roles and responsibilities of each team member
  3. Identify your key audiences and the most effective ways to reach them
  4. Designate  a single point of contact for inquiries from the public and media
  5. Develop sample messages in advance and establish the approval process to get messages out quickly
  6. Develop backups and contingency plans
  7. Ensure the crisis management plan is accessible to each team member from any location

Crisis preparedness isn’t always about preventing problems. Many crisis-related issues can be minimized by implementing smart practices well-ahead of time. Social media can be an effective tool for disseminating factual information. In fact, some 50 percent of news consumers have received “breaking news” via social media, which is why it’s critical for leaders to take the time to establish and cultivate a social media strategy, and build trust, in advance.

In collaboration with Blackboard Connect, we have developed a public relations and crisis playbook for community leaders. The Playbook provides tips, strategies and guides for tackling any urgent situation. Leveraging our deep crisis expertise, we work closely with Blackboard Connect to provide assistance before, during and after a critical situation to schools, higher education institutions and local governments.

To learn about other ways your community can enhance your emergency preparedness plans, visit the Blackboard Connect website.

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