Crisis Communication Basics: Speaking Up When You Don’t Know What to Say

Crisis Communication Basics: Speaking Up When You Don't Know What to Say
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-06-24
Unit 1Slide Deck: Crisis Communication Basics
Unit 2Transcript: Crisis Communication Basics
Unit 3Workbook: Crisis Communication Basics
Unit 4Recording: Crisis Communication Basics

We’re all living in a world where information is being released for public consumption constantly. Unfortunately, some of these are actually inaccurate or just deliberate misinformation. Public safety agencies have been scrutinized and targeted due to misinformation that put these organizations in a bad light especially in the face of crisis. With this in mind, it is crucial that they establish a means to have their voice heard and take control of the narrative as it impacts public opinion.

Kate Kimble joins Justice Clearinghouse to share crisis communication basics. Kate is the public relations manager for Fort Collins Police Services (FCPS) in Colorado. She is in charge of the agency’s digital presence and facilitates meaningful interactions between their agency and the community.

Katie’s discussion covered:

  • The ethical and legal restrictions that often prevent public safety and justice agencies from releasing information and engaging with the public during critical events.
  • Why it isn’t recommended for public agencies to remain silent on issues that impact or involve them and the consequences of not speaking up to both the agency and the community.
  • Leading the conversation to establish one’s place as the one credible resource, demonstrate dependability, and address inaccuracies.
  • The value of acknowledging and addressing the community’s emotions pertaining to a critical event.
  • Crafting a message that considers the emotions and priorities through the elements of care, action, and perspective (CAP).
  • Tips on how to navigate information limits and still engage with the community when there isn’t enough information available or there are legal and ethical factors that must be considered.
  • Best practices and considerations when delivering the message which include the format, the setting, the messenger, the message, the delivery, and the platform.
  • Accommodating the media’s timelines and helping them work on their angles and themes to foster a mutually benefiting relationship where your message is amplified, and their requirements are met.
  • Guidelines when it comes to media interviews that emphasize the significance of preparation, managing expectations, focusing on the key message, and etiquette when interacting with the media.
  • Key takeaways that highlight the importance of aligning your message with the elements of CAP, communicating authenticity, and sustaining presence as a key information resource for your community.
  • Case examples and videos were used to demonstrate:
    • Effective ways to navigate information limits while still keeping community engagement.
    • How a video in social media can garner public attention and create negative publicity and backlash if left unaddressed by your agency.

Specifics tackled in the Q&A were about:

  • The concept of CAP.
  • Whose emotions should agencies be addressing in statements and communication efforts.
  • The practice of information/news embargo.
  • The structure of a typical public information team for public safety/justice agencies.
  • User-friendly apps/programs/tools to make professional-looking videos.
  • The outcome of one of the case examples and whether the story still comes up as people on the internet discover it.


Webinars with this Speaker


Resources and Handouts



Audience Comments

  • “The concept of CAP for external messaging was particularly helpful. Also, controlling the narrative and continuing to push out messages rang true. Thanks to the instructor for a helpful presentation.” — Carl
  • “I learned how to use media instead of avoiding them. Katie was a great speaker. Thank you!” — Donald
  • “The CAP approach and the steps to the communicating in a crisis was very beneficial. Despite the limited time, the enough information was delivered to avoid any confusion. I really enjoyed attending this webinar.” — Kao
  • “The presentation was great with so many good points I will be able to implement myself as well as share with our communications team. Thank you.” — Pam


Additional Resources
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