Crisis Communications Done Right: Rick Scott and Hurricane Irma

So often in crisis management we observe what individuals and brands do wrong and that receives most of the coverage.  Very seldom do we talk about things being done right.  So, this article is about doing crisis management the right way.  Florida Governor Rick Scott’s crisis management deserves praise and is something brands should study.

So what did he do right?

  1.   Governor Scott’s message was simple and direct during the crisis and he stayed on message throughout – people needed to evacuate from the oncoming storm and the storm was devastating.  Every interview or press conference he gave, he worked in his message and never deviated.  Often during a crisis and the media frenzy, spokespersons will forget their message or convolute it.  Governor Scott never did.
  2. Included all stakeholders. A common mistake in crisis communications is forgetting one of the stakeholders.  Governor Scott never did.  His stakeholders were the citizens of Florida, county and city leaders, the federal government, and state employees.  Governor Scott included all of these in his various communications and schedule.  He conveyed what was expected and needed.  A schedule released from the Governor’s office showed just how much time he spent in making sure that all stakeholders were addressed from interviews and press conferences to the public; to phone calls with policymakers; to concise and clear instructions for state workers.  This type of inclusion led many (particularly individuals who are normally critical of Governor Scott) to praise him.
  3. Social media. Often during a crisis, even a natural disaster, social media is overlooked as a means to communicate or does not have the message that is being conveyed on traditional media outlets.  To his credit, Governor Scott and his communications team made sure that the same message that they were communicating through traditional media was being communicated via social media.  They realized that even though they were saturating the airwaves, that many people get their information via Twitter or Facebook.
  4. Plan Forward. Throughout Hurricane Irma and now in its aftermath, Governor Scott communicated that there was a plan moving forward to rebuild and restore the areas that were affected.  A key to successful crisis management isn’t just communicating about the crisis but offering a vision forward after the crisis has passed.

Hurricane Irma was a devastating catastrophe.  Avoiding an even greater tragedy is due in no small part to Rick Scott’s deft crisis management.  Business leaders would do well to study his crisis communications handling.

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