FOP Crisis Communications Card:
In case of public sector MEDIA emergency…
BEFORE you speak to anyone in the press about your incoming crisis, review this information.
PREPARE THE CRISIS TEAM:
1. Gather and confer with your team. Include at least one person from:
a. Legal team
b. PR staff
c. Experts who know the subject of the crisis
2. If you’re an appointed official, alert at least one of your elected officials. If you’re an elected official, alert other elected officials you serve with. Beware that anything you tell someone outside your crisis team may leak.
3. Have someone monitor social media and news coverage. Have that person update you regularly.
4. If you need quick help, call Mark Weaver (contact info contained in this vCard), a crisis communications pro who has worked with the FOP for many years.
PREPARE THE MESSAGE:
1. Remind the team (especially your lawyer) that saying “no comment” is the same as saying “we’re guilty.”
2. Until most facts are known, don’t accept blame or blame others.
3. Determine three major points you can begin to use. Avoid jargon. Each point must:
a. be true
b. show that you have compassion about the problem
c. show that you’re gathering information and want a solution
4. If you have little or no information (or conflicting information) utilize one of the “general responses” below.
1. Write a short statement (100 words or less) and have your team review it. Post it on social media and send it to local news media, noting who the statement is from.
2. Tell all reporters to follow your social media feed for updated information. Update the feed accordingly.
3. If TV/radio reporters are gathering, prepare a crowd- controlled area to brief them by restating (not reading word for word) the statement released on social media. If you take questions, limit answers to the original statement and promise to provide more information as it is available.
General Responses to the Press
Use something like one of these responses when you don’t have enough information to give a substantive answer. First example is for a police-involved shooting and second example is for a discrimination allegation.
1. “This is a tragedy for all involved. We understand and appreciate public concern each time an officer is faced with the incredibly difficult, split- second decision to defend himself and others against a potentially armed suspect. Officers work hard every day to protect the public and stop crime. Unfortunately there are times when an officer is faced wth no other option but to use deadly force.”
2. “Our goal is to make our department a safe and fair place to work for everyone. We expect everyone to follow the law.”
1. “We understand how important this case is. That’s why this is being presented to a Grand Jury that consists of citizens of this community. These citizens - of different races and backgrounds - will be able to examine all of the facts of this incident and determine whether the officer acted within the law.”
2. “Our department has policies in place that ensure a fair and impartial review of the allegation. We take these complaints seriously and that’s why we’re taking the time to ensure we have all the information surrounding this incident. This will ensure a fair process for everyone.”
“MORE TO COME” or TRANSPARENCY responses:
1.“We know the public wants to know more about what happened, which is why we’re moving quickly to gather the facts. We will provide that information as soon as we know more.”
2. “We understand and agree the public has a right to know what happened. We’re moving quickly to gather and verify facts and will release them as quickly as possible in a manner that’s fair to everybody.”
GAG ORDER responses:
1. “Grand Jury matters are confidential by law. It’s a crime for authorities to discuss the testimony. We’ll have much more to say after the Grand Jury acts.”
2. “The Judge has ordered us not to discuss the case outside court and we respect the judge’s decision. We will present the facts in court.”