Whether it’s a workplace violence incident, a product contamination discovery, an internal accusation of harassment or abuse, an industrial accident, or any other critical incident that has the potential to destroy your business or institution, how and when it goes public is critical. That question of how and when it is addressed in public should be your decision and you need to do everything in your power to keep it so. That doesn’t mean hide it until you think you have to say something. That means get out in front of it when you know something has happened. Do the right thing and tell people you are doing the right things. In this day of real time social media, there is very little chance of ‘no one finding out’.
Selection of who will talk to the public via the media, and determining what they will say when, are the most essential elements of the communications plan. Having a designated spokesperson for the organization is recommended but, depending on the severity of the incident, that may not be the only person who must deliver a message. More devastating incidents that have resulted in, or could lead to, the loss of life may require a senior executive spokesperson for some selected messages. The ‘what’ you say needs to be driven by facts and not hearsay. This will of course develop with the progression of the case but don’t, in your zeal to be forthright, report anything that is not verified as correct. The ‘when’ is essentially, as soon as possible after you verify. State what has happened, what actions are being taken, and that more information will be shared as it is confirmed. The theme of all of your messages should be; concern for life, uncovering any wrongdoing, and doing the right thing to respond and help.
The resultant spin-off security issues could be extensive but not immediately apparent. Have there been mistakes made that could appear malicious? This could lead to threats to individuals or your facilities. Is there the likelihood of special interest groups, or general public, outcry and demonstration? What are the follow through investigative requirements that you should be engaging internally? Should this be a police matter? Analyze the situation from several different perspectives other than the reputation of your business or institution. Could anything that has happened be a warning of a future occurrence? It may be advisable to do a situational threat assessment to explore what could develop and whether you’ve taken adequate security measures to prepare? All of these issues and more will contribute to mitigating further damage, perhaps saving lives, and helping you survive the court of public opinion to which everyone will have to answer.
Check out the related training courses on our online training site www.imac-training.com . Some to explore would be: