Monday, March 9, 2009

Communication During A Crisis - "No Comment" Is Not An Option

Richard Moreau, Vice-President, Director Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness

An important part of leadership during a crisis is to be an effective communicator. A leader must communicate to both internal and external audiences. To the internal audience, the leader must communicate: Why you are asking them to act a certain way; What is it that your are asking them to do; How you want them to carry out what you are asking them to do; Who is responsible for what; Where you need them to be or to accomplish what you ask them to do; and finally, When you want them to do it. The answers to all these questions pulled together form a concept of operations – which is essential for a smooth running team.

External communication is also very important. During a crisis the media is looking for “the story” and if you won’t give it to them, they will find it somewhere. You may not know everything but it is important to tell the media what you do know and how you are reacting to that information. This allows you to manage expectations about what information is available and to get your message across to your external audience. It is imperative for the leader during an incident to lead by being the face of the organization to its' external audience.