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Who Should Be Your Spokesperson In A Crisis? [Checklist]

Sheryl Sculley at podium

Spokespeople play a key role in shaping how citizens and the media perceive the local government's crisis management activities. Have you identified your spokesperson? In the ICMA publication, InFocus Report: Effective Crisis Communication, it notes that the right spokesperson possesses a number of critical skills, including: 

Interpersonal communication

  • Express empathy and compassion for the victims and their loved ones who are
  • affected by a crisis
  • Acknowledge feelings
  • Acknowledge criticism without becoming defensive
  • Handle hostility, fear, and anger.

Presentation skills

  • Know how to analyze the audience
  • Model calm confidence and a positive attitude
  • Know how to deliver bad news
  • Stress key information
  • Effectively and smoothly use visual aids such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Prezi
  • Establish credibility
  • Give clear instructions.

Interview skills

  • Effectively answer media questions
  • Avoid answering some questions; do it graciously
  • Set limits when too much is being requested
  • Practice listening skills
  • Practice clarifying, paraphrasing, and acknowledging
  • Practice handling press conferences, television, radio, and print media interviews.

Online and social media skills

  • Develop familiarity with Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube as communication tools
  • Identify appropriate RSS Feeds for emergency preparedness
  • Compose e-mail alerts.

 
 So, what really makes a good spokesperson? Here is a free, downloadable checklist of characteristics that will help you select the best representative during a crisis.

 

TO GAIN A PRACTICAL UNDERSTANDING OF CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT, PARTICIPATE IN ICMA'S NEW ONLINE CERTIFICATE PROGRAM, LOCAL GOVERNMENT 201.

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