Originally known simply as “Peak XV,” Mount Everest, at 29,035 feet, offers views from the highest point on earth. In this blog, our leadership team brings you up-to-date and relevant perspectives on industry happenings, what’s in the media and executive insights. Read on, and enjoy the view from the top.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Karen’s Crisis Tips

Greetings! I hope you've had a chance to read my recent column on crisis communications in the Tallahassee Democrat. Here are some of my tips for effective crisis communications management:

  • Start work on a potential crisis before it becomes public. Plan out key messages, identify a spokesperson, and implement steps to resolve the situation. Refer to your pre-approved crisis plan.
  • Speak in plain English. Make sure people understand your message; avoid industry-specific jargon that can confuse the general population.
  • Convey your sympathy. While addressing key issues, be sure to let the audience know you understand the feelings of the parties involved.
  • Keep everyone informed. The media, the general public, stakeholders, neighbors., etc. Update every target audience regularly with what you know, what you don’t know, and what you’re doing.

What to say…

  • When asked a high-emotion question, respond with Compassion, Conviction and Optimism.
  • When asked a “what if” question, repeat the question, state the actual situation, and state what you know factually.
  • The triple positive: When breaking adverse news or stating a negative, balance the bad news with at least three more positive, constructive or solution-oriented messages.
Go to the MCG Newsroom to read the full August column, as well as check out information on previous columns on networking, social media and more.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

This is one for the book

From time to time there are those great life moments where an event, person or maybe even a vacation makes you stop and put everything into perspective. Or, maybe it is an expereince where something new is learned or a battle is won. I often highlight these experiences by saying "one day I will write a book and this will be a chapter."
This week definately deserves a chapter in the book as I had the opportunity to attend the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) conference where speakers provided insight on everything from new media and research to leadership and internet marketing. However, the highlight was the opportunity to meet and learn from two leaders in our industry: Harold Burson, founding chairman of Burson - Marsteller and Aaron Cushman, former chairman and CEO of Cushman & Associates.
Notable achievements for Mr. Burson (pictured below) include being the architect of the largest public relations firm in the world today. He started practicing integrated marketing decades before the term was even invented. Mr. Cushman has represented clients including Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and dozens of Fortune 500 corporations. He also tells the story of representing the White Sox in 1950 and how he created a music night at the park with a large orchestra and a promotion where visitors had to come to the park with an instrument in addition to their ticket. At the seventh inning stretch he had the conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra lead the 50,000 or so attendees in playing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and that is where the tradition started.

Attending the Counselors' Network meeting at the FPRA conference and having the opportunity to chat with these two industry giants in an intimate room with other PR professionals from around the state was priceless. Some of the highlights from this discussion included thoughts on new media and citizen journalism. Aaron Cushman (pictured below) discussed the concern of the increased need of authentication with blogging and Harold Burson indicated that new media is a revolutionary process that supports the First Amendment. Mr. Burson also discussed how the media is becoming more responsible in pulling information from the internet and our industry challenge is real time monitoring. Both agreed that there is a great opportunity for newspapers to be more analytical and interpretive and to set the agenda for what is on the internet.

What an honor to learn from these leaders and to personally meet both of them. This is one for chapter two, career highlights.

Monday, August 6, 2007

When illness hits home

Last night, I spoke with a friend whose son suffers from a mental illness. The son’s illness affects the entire family, and it is especially difficult right now for his mother. The situation has come close to the breaking point for everyone. All I could do was to sit and listen while she cried and vented.

In spite of it all, this family is very fortunate. They have access to medications and therapy. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration found that 24.5 million adults 18 years or older had have some type of mental illness. The numbers are frightening. I thought, can you imagine what all those family members must be going through?

I can’t solve this problem for the country or for my friend, but I can help spread the word about access to patient assistance programs to help those who might need assistance with their medication. If you have a friend who is dealing with mental illness—listen and let them know that they are not alone. And, help spread the word about resource programs such as the Partnership for Prescription Assistance. Their contact information is below.

www.pparx.org | 1-888-4PPA-NOW