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Crisis Communications and our Pollies

Amy Lawson - Saturday, February 19, 2011
It has been a fascinating experience in 2011 so far, observing our politicians and their response in times of crisis.
Queensland premier Anna Bligh, has been heralded for her handling of the devastating Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi, and her very success in dealing with these crises has made our Prime Minister pale into insignificance.
There is a lot of be learned from these recent events: how they were broadcast to the public, the contrast in how these two politicians dealt with the situation, and the consequent public response.
Why did Anna Bligh succeed in this crisis so much? She was authentic, real, available, very very visible, and her mannerisms and even the fact that she wore jeans to press conferences made her look like a Queenslander - one of them. 
On the other hand, Julia Gillard came off wooden and scripted.
Lesson 101 in crisis communications: the spokesperson MUST show empathy, compassion and be genuine.
Trying to suppress real emotions requires a great deal of effort and is rarely successful. 

Social Media sparked and accelerated the uprising in Egypt this month, and this new digital communication demonstrated its power during the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi last month.
We are in the age of transparency. More and more this will be the case as Generation Y takes over the world - we've already seen it in Egypt.
Some supporting statements that I have picked up of late:
  • Trust is the "new black"
  • Our trust in corporate media has declined
  • No-one is an island anymore
  • Your crisis will become someone else's opportunity
  • Web is 4 times more credible than newspapers, 3 times more credible than radio, and 2 times more credible than TV
  • Nobodies are influencers today, and that's a huge cultural shift
  • News spreads like wildfire in a deeply connected network
  • We are compulsive storytellers, and Twitter/Facebook are our perfect platforms.
While crisis communications is changing in terms of platforms used and approach, the golden rule still hasn't changed: you have to respond, and fast - within one hour. This timeframe is even more critical today.

Link: Social Media Crisis Management Done Right: by Red Cross America 

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