WORKING THE MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS PLANS THAT WORK BRAM ALEXANDER
Working the Media • Employ the KISS principle • Keep It Simple Stupid! • Basic principles achieve results - regardless of the size or complexity of the situation or problem
Working the Media The basics: • Get the decision making process right • Stick to the key messages • Use the same spokesperson – preferably one the community knows and trusts which helps build credibility for your messages • Be available for regular updates – but only when there is new information
Working the Media What is the right level of panic? • The media has a legitimate interest in obtaining accurate, up-to-date information • This interest can be legitimately channelled into a useful tool and provide a link between government, emergency management and public health teams and the public • If these channels to information are blocked, rumour, misinformation and the bush telegraph can lead to unwanted results
Working the Media Crisis? What crisis? • Go early, be proactive • By putting the size of the problem and the actual risks into perspective can take the heat out of a situation • If the media thinks you are being forthright and honest, this is often reflected in their reporting
Working the Media Crisis? What crisis? Getting bad news out is better than the slow drip, drip, drip of daily revelations that keep a story continually in the public eye for the wrong reasons This can take the focus off the key messages
Working the Media Golden campaign rules • Put the community’s interests first • Act decisively – honestly • Own up or apologise for the problem • Fix the problem if there is one • Be up front with the facts - tell it all – tell it fast - and stay ahead of the game
Working the Media Nuts and bolts questions • Get the decision making process right • Accurate briefings for spokespeople • Target the most effective media – radio – first! TV is slower and print a dinosaur • Prepare fact sheets in advance eg., signs and symptoms – how do I make myself safe at home etc • These can be tweaked and loaded onto websites/printed at any time
Working the Media More nuts and bolts questions • What if the power goes out? • Can material be stored off-site in a regional HQ • When do you activate the 1800 call-centre? • Along the way - reviewing protocols and procedures does not imply a shortcoming, but it is a prudent way of ensuring planning for the unknown is up to date and current.
Working the Media Stuffing up – but moving on • Melbourne Aquarium Thursday, April 27, 2000 • Chief Health Officer – retiring next day • Successor abroad • New deputy CHO stepped in • Friday, April 28 – deputy CHO interstate • Head, communicable diseases – thrown to the wolves - face and voice of outbreak for the DURATION!
Working the Media Coming challenges • The 2006 Commonwealth Games means we have to account for an exaggeration of the normal problems when large groups gather. • Ensure food safety, maintenance of cooling towers, surveillance of infectious diseases through hospital emergency departments when a lot of o/seas visitors are present and can introduce new strains of flu etc • Learn from Sydney’s 2000 Olympic Games success
Working the Media What lurks unseen around the corner? Bio-terrorism in the form of a mass casualty event seems to be a focus of much of our efforts Statistically, we are due for a flu pandemic and the latest revelations about Avian flu mutating are chilling A pandemic would be the ultimate test of our resilience and media skills Don’t panic would be empty rhetoric