Strong crisis communication helps keep residents safe through the hurricane
When Hurricane Sandy came down on New York, the city looked to its mayor for leadership, and he didn’t disappoint. Using all of his substantial crisis management skills, Mayor Bloomberg kept his constituents protected through the power of information. You might expect the native New Yorker’s tone to be harsh, but he was able to inject a rarely-seen dose of compassion into his speaking as well, helping to convince residents of the seriousness of the situation. Here’s a quote, from a Financialist article by Terrence Murray:
Mayor Bloomberg has been criticized in the past for his somewhat distant, technocratic style. However, Sandy brought out the mayor’s softer side. This was particularly true when he made personal appeals to New Yorkers, including urging local surfers not to get their boards out for what promised to be epic waves.
He also repeatedly reminded his constituents that all his exhortations had a single, simple purpose: Avoiding loss of life. ”We will certainly get through this, but we would like to get through this with nobody getting hurt and that’s a lot more important than property damage,” the mayor said hours before Sandy made landfall. “Our first priority is keeping everybody safe.”
You can shout warnings at people all day long and the reality is that the stubborn ones just won’t listen. Put a tinge of compassion in your speech, though, and it becomes a different story.
Compassion is also an amazing tool for crisis management when people have been inconvenienced, upset or harmed. Whether you’re truly at fault or not, it pays dividends to simply get out there and let people know that you feel their pain. Done properly, you can shift the public’s perception of your organization from the faceless, uncaring giant into a fellow bunch of people who are doing the best they can to make things right.
According to Bernstein Crisis Management president Jonathan Bernstein, quoted in that same article, Bloomberg nailed all of his “Five Tenets of Crisis Communications:”
Bernstein says effective crisis communication has to be prompt, compassionate and honest. It also has to be informative and interactive, and he believes Bloomberg and his team scored top marks on all fronts.
In a time of crisis, Bloomberg and his team came together to give the people what they needed – guidance, protection and information, all in a package that was easily digested by the general public. Kudos!
The BCM Blogging Team