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Crisis management tips

One of the best speakers at the IRMCO conference in Williamsburg, Va. was Rick Amme of Amme & Associates, a public relations expert that specializes in crisis situations. And he presented valuable information for any manager who has had to deal with difficult issues during a crisis.

Amme gave out cards -- the size of a business card -- that included his crisis response principles:

•Take care of the victims or perceived victims
•Fix the problem. People want to know when you learned about the problem and what you did about it.
•Notify the stakeholders – and don't use the media to do that.
•Provide information to the media quickly
•Rehearse critical press interviews
•Don't make it worse
•Get your issues over with. Don't let it drag on.
•Tell the truth.
•Reassure people.
•Follow your communications plan.

"The audience wants to know, 'Am I safe?' Reassure them that they are," he said.

Amme has more crisis management writings here.

One of his slides was a cartoon of a bunch of vultures sitting on a branch waiting to swoop in on some big story. A number of people approached me after Amme's speech to ask if I found that insulting. Frankly, I don't. It's true. It's our job. It's what you read, listen to or watch. (Everybody bemoans Anna Nicole Smith coverage, but ratings shot up.)

Anyway, the pink elephant in the room during Amme's speech was Lurita Doan, who is having to do some crisis public relations management of her own.

Coincidently, I was in process of asking the local press wizards in our market for recommendations of what Doan should do to get herself out of this mess and 'move on with the work of the American people,' to use Bill Clinton's line.

I don't quote anybody by name so they could speak their minds, but there is some interesting stuff.

Here is what one person -- not Amme -- suggested:

First, she needs to change her behavior so she doesn't do things for which she can be criticized or nailed to the cross.

Second, she need to tell the truth so she can regain her credibility. She is a very smart and strong woman who can stand up to the criticism. She should be direct, stick to message, and tough it out.


As I say, we'll have all the comments in Monday's issue of Federal Computer Week in Circuit.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on May 03, 2007 at 12:16 PM


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