Robert Rimm reports:
"When a crisis happens, effective communication is one of the steps that must accompany the specific actions taken by an organization to address and mitigate the fallout. Businesses must communicate with clients and customers, as well as notify employees, politicians, regulators and the public. As part of a larger crisis communications plan, press releases are a key avenue to disseminate information to all affected constituents. The manner in which a company responds to a crisis can immediately shape public perceptions and have long-term consequences. Organizations have learned to be proactive, with leaders both accessible and transparent. When affected groups are accurately identified and informed, those responsible for dealing with a crisis gain crucial time to effectively solve it...Crises can and do happen to all types of organizations, from public corporations and private companies to hospitals and governments. Shareholders, customers, employees, patients and constituents have a right to know the truth in a timely and transparent way. Organizations that are not forthcoming can easily back themselves into a destructive cycle from which they may find it difficult or impossible to recover. Leaders should make every effort to maintain their accessibility and positive relationships with the press, both before and during a crisis, as credibility can determine both how the crisis is reported and how the public perceives it. The press is adept at discerning open dialogue and transparency versus delay and obfuscation, and reports accordingly...Organizations should develop and practice proactive procedures so that when a crisis hits, they are prepared. Levelheaded action trumps panic every time. Upper management members should be notified immediately so they can begin to deal with the crisis rather than learning about it on the Internet or their local news media. Regulated and licensed businesses must notify the appropriate agencies...Effective press releases indicate all such specific steps taken, including dates, contact information, personnel involved and ongoing plans...History has repeatedly shown that organizations willing to accept responsibility swiftly and unequivocally can quickly regain the confidence and trust of key constituents...Accurate and concise press releases should generally fit on a single page and fall within 300 to 500 words. Beyond that length, editors are less inclined to take the time to carefully read through them. When sent by fax, one-page press releases also avoid the possibility of lost or mismatched pages. If necessary, further communications can be sent when additional crisis information or updates become available."
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