Remember, in the “things that affect our image” world, it takes at least seven great, positive headline messages to balance the damage caused by just one “We shouldn’t have said that” message.
By Kenneth Schroeder
Let me make it clear from the outset, I’m not a “public relations guru.” In fact, I am far from it. I do business continuity planning. That said, all my experience in the PR world comes from a crisis communications perspective.
There are really three parts to crisis communications. The first is communications to and from your staff. You do that every day, and during a crisis the biggest obstacles are your normal channels might not work and in a crisis the messages are easily mangled. The second is communications to (and occasionally from) your stakeholders (members), and during a crisis opening reliable channels may be difficult, especially during a wide-area crisis. The third part is media management, and that is where I want to focus.
What you and your staff say to the media during a crisis can make or break your public image. Imply that their deposits aren’t safe (or that they don’t have immediate access to their money), and you could initiate a run on the credit union at worst or create a negative image that takes years to overcome at best. Dispense a message of confidence, security, and control and your members will form an image that your credit union is where they want to be.
Of course, if the precipitating incident was the fourth robbery you’ve had in the last six months, there might not be anything you can say or do to put a positive spin on it. A great media campaign will do little to overcome lack of preparedness for disasters or failure to put adequate mitigations in place for the risks you face in your day-to-day operations.