Communication.   It’s a word we use a lot in our company and our business.

Heck, we are a Communications company, right?   So, I wanted to take a look at the way we can do Crisis Communications, both for our clients, and our company.  And, to add to that, why is it important?

I think all of us … working from home these past couple of weeks… know how quickly news spreads.  And how often that news can be false, or at least partially true without context.

Which is why, right now more than ever, we need to make sure we get information from trusted sources.

So, looking at it from a client perspective, I’ll give an example of how we handled a crisis situation at the end of the recent Daytona 500.  You may recall that Roush Fenway driver Ryan Newman was involved in a horrific crash at the end.

Television commentators, and media on site at Daytona, were somber.  The track safety teams brought out screens to block TV and photographers from seeing the extraction of the driver from a seriously destroyed car.  In the racing world, that’s a terrible sign.

Newman was taken to a local hospital.  There was silence from the team, the sanctioning body and the track.

Our clients were being flooded with messages from their bosses and other parties.  That said, we made a decision to help them communicate.   Both Dan Zacharias and Matt Fancett were on site in Daytona.  I was communicating with them real-time, as well as with the client.

The decision was made that the main client and Zacharias would go to the hospital to get first-hand information.  Fancett would stay in the media center and report anything he was hearing.  I started a draft statement from Ford that I shared with my teammates for input.

Fortunately, after two very long hours of little to no information, word from Zacharias came via text there was “reason for hope.”  Statements were re-written, and approved via email read on an iPhone. When Roush Fenway was ready to make a statement on Newman’s condition shortly thereafter, our Ford statement followed theirs within minutes.  Both the Roush and Ford statements were widely distributed to media and internal Ford clients and interested parties immediately.

Fortunately, Ryan Newman was okay except for a bruised brain.  He is expected to race again this year.

But the lesson we learned was having a communication system, in real time, with real information from real sources on the ground, once again prevented speculation and, more importantly, bad information to go out.

As we go through the current “crisis” we face right now, how can we help our clients manage the same type of communication if they need it?  Just as importantly, how can we do the same for our employees?

It’s one of the reasons we started the video series from the Managing Partners, but it’s also a chance to look within your own teams.  How are you best communicating with each other right now? 

The Digital PR team is gathering every morning on Google Hangouts.  As is the IT team.

Our company operations meeting still is happening every Tuesday morning, and the Managing Partners are in contact daily.   I am sure others are doing the same.

Technology is great, and a great way to stay in touch.   So let’s use our technology resources well as we power through this situation.   Let’s try and make it more than emails or IMs.  Let’s hear each other’s voices and see each other’s faces when we can.

It’s a great way to stay working together!