By TROY KIDDER | Kidder Crisis Communications
Whenever and wherever people gather, there is a strong potential for an unfortunate incident that may soon become a full-blown crisis, especially in a town or city with all the activity that goes on every day.
So it’s not a matter of if but when some kind of incident or crisis may occur in your municipality … please keep in mind that often crisis is simply an incident that was handled poorly and with sound communications, could have been avoided. And remember, you can’t win a crisis but it can be managed well. The bottom line: Whether crisis prevention or crisis management, communication is the key.
The first project should be a quarterly newsletter. This should be no more than four-pages in length, printed in four-color on glossy paper.
Photos should be large and taken professionally and articles should be short, well written and well-edited. The publication should go out to all taxpayers; however, if your town is too large and/or budget will not allow, print as many as possible and distribute them all around the town: stores, post office and schools to name a few.
A professional publication can also drive traffic to your website and social media. Speaking of websites, once again, pictures should be professional quality and large. Content should be short and well written. Also, sites should be easy for patrons to navigate — invoking the seven-second rule … meaning that folks should be able to find what they want or need within just seven seconds.
All the above regarding newsletters and websites, send a powerful message that you and your town are organized, have a strategy for everything and can be trusted; all of this is invaluable for crisis prevention and crisis management — and even marketing, branding and image for your town/city.
Finally, regarding social media, just because you are on Facebook or Twitter, does not mean it’s of any value to you or your community.
First, once again, all images need to be positive and professional and posted consistently — that’s at least three to four times per week. Although it’s the trend of social media to butcher the language, for the sake of image and clear messaging, you must refrain and use proper English.
No matter what medium you use, and hopefully all three mentioned, everything must be communicated with a strategy that understands the audience while being consistent with thematic goals and giving the community what it wants and what it needs.
With all this so important to the safety and function of a community, remember you can contract professionals to help with day-today communication strategies and function; they can also provide crisis prevention and crisis management that even offers a 24/7 hotline to a crisis expert.
When communication mediums are consistently and clearly sending positive messages from your municipality to the patrons, your community is friendlier, safer and even thrives economically. And if or when, that occasional incidence or crisis does occur, there is already a relationship of trust between the town managers and the town itself. As a result, incidences are solved quickly and crisis is managed well.
Troy Kidder is a former assistant town manager, former school teacher and a communications and PR professional. He serves communities across the country with communications and public relations solutions.
His website is www.kiddercrisiscommunications.com, or contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with communications, public relations and crisis prevention/crisis management solutions.