Crisis Communication Drill Assignment:
You are the Communications Director for a large nonprofit called Metroplex Relief Fund located in Dallas, Texas. It is similar to the American Red Cross. The organization accepts cash and in-kind donations intended for community relief following a major disaster. Recently there was a tornado in the Garland area and this organization received $5 million in community donations. You were supposed to meet with Executive Director, Amanda Smith yesterday to discuss a press release related to this recent disaster relief, but she did not show up for work.
It is Tuesday 10:00 a.m. and you have received this email on your phone.
Hi, this is Matt Crawford from the Dallas NBC affiliate.
We have received a link to a video showing somebody who appears to be your organization’s founder and CEO, being arrested in the parking lot of your building yesterday afternoon.
There is a video posted on YouTube. In the video, a woman carries out a brief case and puts it in the backseat of an SUV right before two law enforcement agents approach.
You certainly can’t miss the big logo of MRF on the side of the SUV. Looks like the video is getting lots of attention on social media.
What does Metroplex Relief Fund have to say about this? Is it your CEO ? Could this arrest related to large donations made by the community to MRF in response to the recent tornado?
I am on deadline, please let me know as quickly as possible. We will run this story tonight at 6 p.m. I need your statement by 5 p.m. Would you be willing to go on camera tonight?
Prepare Public Relations documents and responses for an initial response to this developing crisis communication situation:
1. Email to reporter with Statement ( 2 to 3 sentences)
2. Tweet directing followers to Statement posted on website
3. Short Letter to Supporters, Volunteers, Donors to be emailed tomorrow
4. Email to Employees with directions about what to do if contacted by media to be emailed tomorrow
5. Memo to Dan Gomez, Chairman of the Board of Directors, with your quick update of what has transpired and when. Include the document mentioned below. How will you interact with Dan- by phone. Set a time to talk before the news story and afterwards.
6. A one page document summarizing your strategy and tactics – current and suggested approach/actions for the remainder of the week.
Instructions: Put all documents in a single document. Do not over think this exercise. It should take about an hour –up to 90 minutes max.– work rapidly.
Instructor Note: The purpose of a crisis comm. exercise is to work under pressure without all the facts to respond to media and publics in order to limit damage to an organization’s reputation. It is heavy duty PR and it requires multi tasking, strategic thinking and execution of tactics.