Practice makes perfect
Police forces the world over are embracing the importance of communication for crisis management, reputation management, and community building. Here’s one example, out of far-off Trinidad & Tobago, from a Guardian Media article:
Senior officials of the Police Service embarked on an intensive three-day training workshop yesterday on how to communicate better during a crisis and improve media relations as they seek to enhance the image of the organisation. This was revealed yesterday by ASP Joanne Archie and public information officer of the Police Service, Sgt Wayne Mystar, during yesterday’s daily media briefing at the Police Training Academy, St James.
Not only are they training (and gaining reputation points in the community for announcing the fact, no less), but they’re also being smart about it, ensuring trained leadership brings the lessons they’ve learned back to the rest of the troops. Check out this quote from Archie:
Archie said the workshop was in keeping with the 21st-century policing initiative “to make the Police Service a more competent, caring, professional and committed organisation.” She said the training would go a long way to prepare senior officials on how to better communicate with the media, as well as ensure the timely delivery of accurate information. Archie said succession planning would be used to ensure other junior-ranked officers also were trained on how to communicate with the media, once that initial workshop was completed.
All in all a pretty solid effort. One important step that’s missing is communication directly with the public. In case you didn’t know enough about Trinidad & Tobago to realize just how Internet-connected its residents are, SocialBakers.com lists 37% of the total population as using social media, with a whopping 94% of web users engaging in social media use. Social media accounts have been used to great effect to increase community participation and reduce crime in cities large and small, and the stage is certainly set here. Put that in place, with the proper support, of course, and you’ve got a strong program that will help the police force better serve their public.
For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
[Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]