Lessons from communicating about a deadly disease

The newspaper CRISIS AVERTED  and coffee

The Ebola crisis is nothing to joke about or make light of. We all wish for this disease to go away and never return. As with any crisis, there are two battles being fought: 1) on the ground, with frontline people working to keep the disease from spreading and 2) via the news stream, with communications teams trying to keep misinformation from spreading.

It is interesting to watch how these communications may be helping or hurting efforts to stop the disease from spreading. Is the reporting responsible? Is the news media offering a public service by making sure people know and understand the symptoms and the actual risk of contracting Ebola, or are they creating panic and fear? What do you tell people? How often? How much? In what manner? Are you violating privacy, security, slander & libel laws? Are you withholding information that would make a difference in the safety of the public? Who will be the spokesperson?

The World Health Organization, the hospitals in Texas and New York all have crisis communications plans that have gone into effect in light of the Ebola outbreak and the subsequent events we’ve all heard about on the news. I worked for a hospital system for 10 years, and it was part of our JCAHO Accreditation process to have such a plan. We couldn’t even stay open without one. That’s how important it is.

All organizations are susceptible to a crisis of some sort. It’s unlikely to be a deadly disease…but embezzlement, fraud, white collar crime, sexual harassment, labor disputes are very common crises. Having a crisis communications plan in place in hopes that you never have to use it is like having liability or property & casualty insurance.

Here are some basic elements of a plan:

1. Phone tree: What are the phone numbers you will need to find and call in the middle of the night? Who will be in charge of making those calls?

2. Command center: Where will you be operating from for communications? Who will be in charge?

3.  Team: Who will be on the team? What will their roles be?

4. Protocols: Based on your industry and/or laws and regulations, what are the protocols for communications? Where will you get your official information from? What can you legally say?

5. News conferences/releases/statements: Who will draft these? Coordinate? Where will you hold news conferences? How often will you communicate or release information?

6. Spokespersons: Who will be the designated spokesperson?

7. Media calls: Who will field these? Who will be designated to respond?

8. Logging/tracking/monitoring: Who will log all media calls and responses? Who will handle monitoring coverage (news media AND social media)?

9. Internal communications: What will you tell employees? When and how will you tell them?

10. Customer/client communications: What will you tell customers/clients? When and how will you tell them?

11. Timelines: What is the plan for the first 24 hours? The first 48? After 5 days? After 7?

12. Follow-up/debrief: What is your plan to follow-up with crisis staff, customers, clients, the public, elected officials, after the initial crisis is over?

It may seem overwhelming to put this kind of a plan in place, but you will be grateful you did.

7 signs your PR efforts need a reboot

By Dorothy Crenshaw, PR Daily

One of the exhilarating things about working in PR, particularly on the agency side, is the variety of what we do. It’s ideal for those of us who are easily bored and don’t want to get into a rut.

Yet, we, too, can fall into routine, and even the best-conceived plan can become outdated or stale over time. Here are seven signs that your PR plan might need a reboot:

You’re relying on press releases. They still have their place, of course, but they shouldn’t be a crutch. Outreach to important constituents, including journalists, should go far beyond “broadcast news.” Of note, the rise of digital and social media and electronic news distribution has placed a higher premium on personal relationships and handcrafted outreach.

Your PR is a one-way street. Some blast out press releases. Others, even large, sophisticated brands, use social media channels as broadcast platforms (hence the term from above “broadcast news”). Wrong. These tactics will limit your return on investment and may even turn off your target audiences. Digital and social channels should invite feedback.

Read the entire sorty here- PR Daily

Things to consider when choosing a Media Monitoring Company

1. Make sure the service fits your needs. A free service like Google News can sometimes track what you need. However, you have no control over what publications they cover. It can sometimes be more than what you need and other times can miss what you are really looking for especially with television and radio. The paid services offer many good options but they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Get free trials from the well-established news monitors like NDS, Cision, Vocus, Lexus-Nexus, National Aircheck, CyberAlert, and Critical Mention .

2. Check Your Coverage. Almost all monitors vary on their coverage. Some may only do the top 50 or 100 markets. Some may not have a local office in the markets you are interested in which can be helpful. Some monitors may just do local and not national news. There are some that do just about everything. Radio coverage can greatly vary depending on the monitor. Some monitors will get their content form a newspaper’s website and some actually have the complete printed content. Some monitoring services offer a really nice user interface with very little substance. So it is important to take a test run before making a decision.

3. What do you want to get back? Many monitors offer useful information like Audience Numbers, PR Values, run times, tends, etc. This can be useful especially to justify the cost of a Public Relations Campaign. In some cases client may be interested in the video as well. Check with the monitor and make sure they can provide you the format you need. The clips can used in PowerPoint’s, DVD players and on websites. Make sure the monitor can provide the format(s) that work best for you. There are many options with varying quality and file size.

4. How fast do you need it? Many monitors now offer online access to coverage shortly after it runs. This can be a premium feature for someone who is constantly in the news and needs to be able to react fast to coverage. In some cases you may only need daily, weekly or monthly reports and don’t need the extra cost of the online dashboard. Some monitors can get you a clips within the hour and some may need till the next day.

5. How much? They all have varying price tags. Once you take your free trials, you will need to access what you really need in a monitoring service. The costs for subscriptions and clips greatly vary. Don’t be pressured into signing any contracts. A good monitor should give a good 2-4 week trial before you decide. It’s always best to do a side-by-side test using the same search terms for the same time period.

Griff Madigan

Substantial Growth in Ads Is on the Way to Facebook

By TANZINA VEGA, NY Times
Published: February 29, 2012

Facebook’s hundreds of millions of users could soon be faced with a lot more advertising — in their newsfeed, on their mobile devices and even when they log off.

On Wednesday, the company announced a new suite of advertising products intended to insert more ads into Facebook’s traditionally clean interface and to take more advantage of mobile ads, where the company has struggled. The announcement was made at its first marketing conference, held at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.

For users, the announcement could mean many more ads on Facebook. For advertisers, the effort offers a chance to reach more users in more places.

Despite aggressively courting Madison Avenue for the last few years, Facebook has been an anomaly in the world of digital advertising. The ad units offered less creative options for advertisers who want to, say, take over the site’s home page or add moving text to an ad. Rather, the value in Facebook’s ads was in their data and personalization.

The potential for more ad dollars was reflected in the company’s first filing for a public offering in February. At the time, analysts said the company was expected to be valued at $75 billion to $100 billion. But according to the filing, Facebook made only $3.7 billion in revenue last year, the bulk of that from advertising.

Read the Full Story at New York Times