Communicating in a Crisis
Tips on protecting your CU’s reputation in challenging times.
Through a series of urgent, compelling examples, Anthony Huey captivated CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference attendees Thursday with cautionary tales of what can go wrong when organizations mismanage a crisis—and how to avoid those missteps.
Huey, president of Reputation Management Associates and a 20-year media relations veteran, presented the credit union audience with a step-by-step plan for clear and effective communication during the critical early stages of a crisis.
Focus on two areas, Huey advised: crisis management and crisis communication.
Crisis management is the planning that occurs prior to an incident, and sets the stage for proactive and effective communication during the crisis.
Credit union leaders should have a written crisis communication plan they regularly update to account for changes in personnel and communication channels.
To strengthen the plan, Huey urged, schedule periodic sessions where you encourage your team to “brainstorm weird” by envisioning implausible scenarios in addition to more likely crises. That's because the crisis you plan for won’t often be the crisis you get.
Huey also stressed the importance of:
- Preparing the plan in advance to whatever degree possible;
- Drilling the plan to judge whether it is practical and effective;
- Creating a “dark website”—a portal invisible to the public—to ensure that during a crisis, you can quickly bring to life this key communication channel.
- Maintaining a strong, positive relationship with local media during “normal” times to ensure even-handed reporting during times of crisis.
Huey’s presentation confirmed for session attendee Dan Hansen that Spokane (Wash.) Teachers Credit Union has a strong crisis communication plan in place.
Hansen, communications manager for the $2 billion credit union, said his chief takeaways included ensuring regular review of the plan, preparing key media messages in advance, and stressing social media as a communication channel.
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