Media & Crisis Communications – The role of the CEO

You’ve drilled. You’ve done your homework.

Your communications and senior management team have a well-formulated crisis plan. Everyone knows their roles and is prepared to take the right steps toward containing and getting ahead of the crisis.

When the real crisis hits however, too many companies are stymied by indecision and second-guessing. Too many CEO’s won’t trust that carefully crafted plan to steer the organization forward. What’s behind all the additional road-blocks and inaction that adds precious hours, days and even weeks to your response time?

It may be that your crisis plan is missing a key ingredient: an on-going and clearly defined role for your CEO.

Don’t underestimate the amount of pressure a real crisis will bring to bear on the head of the team. The real role of the CEO, beyond making sure those in authority have what they need to make quick and meaningful decisions and being a primary voice in calming key stakeholders, will be to make sure everyone knows of and continues on the right road toward your carefully planned recovery.

Internal audiences, in particular, feel they have the right to know what’s going on: the bad as well as the good. They’re right. And no one is better suited than the CEO to making sure those lines of communication are and remain open through a crisis.

So what can you do to make sure your CEO is in the right role during a time of crisis? Here are five step checklist to make sure your CEO stays on track to play a central communications role:

  1. CREATE A COMMUNICATION EXPECTATION
    Your CEO’s key role must not be limited to operational decisions in time of crisis. Make sure your CEO doesn’t become bogged down in the detail of operational functions, forcing him or her to delegate communication to others. Institute a formal process for CEO communication with both internal and external key audiences. Make it a priority and, as soon as possible, make your CEO a source for information with those key stakeholders.
  2. BACK UP YOUR COMMUNICATORS
    Yes, you’ll want to make sure there’s a limited number of spokespeople at a time of crisis, but there’s no need for your CEO or your PIO (public information officer) to be the only source of information. He or she cannot and will not be on the job 24/7, so make sure there are alternatives and that there’s a mechanism for keeping messages well coordinated.
  3. DEFINE EXPECTATIONS
    No one is better positioned to frame the crisis and its response than your CEO for external, but even more importantly, internal audiences. Those audiences need to know that the crisis is fully recognized and they must hear how the company’s core values align with your crisis response. Make sure your own employees are on board and understanding what is taking place and why.
  4. LINK YOUR RESPONSES
    Temporary websites, hotlines and media outreach are proven methods of keeping the media and the public informed during a crisis. Make sure your CEO messages can be heard and read through all sources. Put your CEO in the forefront of response, and position your company as the go-to resource for the crisis as early as possible.
  5. INVOLVE THOSE IMPACTED
    Fight the very natural inclination to tighten the circle and issue pronouncements from the top without interaction and input. Answer the need for those impacted by the crisis, both internally and externally, to have a voice in the outcome of your next moves and to know they’re listened to. Allow some kind of on-line or in person feedback mechanism to help make sure your CEO doesn’t become isolated from those most immediately impacted.

Aileen Pincus is a former reporter,U.S. Senate executive staffer, and public relations executive, who now provides crisis and media training, as well as presentation and speech training, as president of her own communications firm in Maryland. She can be reached atwww.thepincusgroup.com or at (301) 938-6000.

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TPG to Provide Tennessee Valley Authority Media Training

For immediate release
Contact: Stephanie Lockwood • slockwood@thepincusgroup.com • 301.938.6990

Washington, DC – The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government and providing electricity for 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states, has awarded a contract to the Pincus Group for media training, communications training and consulting. TPG in partnership with Zayas Hendrick MediaWorks LLC, will provide training for designated TVA personnel to prepare them for a variety of public communications.

“We’re very much looking forward to working with TVA’s executives and managers” said Aileen Pincus, TPG President “and we’re especially gratified to work with our partners at Zayas Hendrick on this tailored program to benefit TVA’s media and public communications.”

Zayas Hendrick MediaWorks is a leading Washington DC firm providing video production, instructional design and training.

The TVA, which was established in 1933 by an act of Congress, is a self-sustaining corporation and receives no taxpayer funds. Its mission is to help lead the Tennessee Valley region and the nation toward a cleaner and more secure energy future, relying more on nuclear power and energy efficiency and relying less on coal.

TPG provides world-class media training, crisis communications, speech and presentation coaching for public and private sector executives in the US, Europe and throughout the Middle East. For more information contact info@thepincusgroup.com or visit our website at www.thepincusgroup.com

TPG Signs Global Health Leader For Executive Training

For immediate release
Contact: Stephanie Lockwood • slockwood@thepincusgroup.com • 301.938.6990

Washington, DC- Washington DC – Management Sciences for Health, a global health non-profit organization working in over 150 countries, has signed a long-term agreement with the Pincus Group for communications training and consulting.

The Pincus Group will provide training for MSH executives working in the US and around the world from offices in Arlington, Virginia and MSH’s world headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “We’re very excited about building a continuing relationship with MSH, and helping to support their important work around the world,” said Aileen Pincus, TPG President.

MSH has been a leader in global health, particularly in areas of maternal, new born and child health, for over 40 years. TPG provides world-class media training, crisis communications, speech and presentation coaching for public and private sector executives in the US and globally.

TPG provides world-class media training, crisis communications, speech and presentation coaching for public and private sector executives in the US, Europe and throughout the Middle East. For more information contact info@thepincusgroup.com or visit our website at www.thepincusgroup.com