By Patrice Cloutier
Apart from totally avoiding a crisis (a pipe dream), being truly prepared is the only guarantee that you’ll have a chance to be successful. I’ve been writing for a while now about the five P’s of crisis comms planning:
- Procedures (simple, intuitive, adaptable – the playbook)
- People (their training, skills needed, rostering)
- Preparation (the messaging, what you’ll say and how you can prepare ahead)
- Practice (a plan untested is a plan unproven)
- Platform (the tech to allow you to respond quickly and reach your audiences)
For me, the third point is critical and message mapping is an ideal approach to help organizations anticipate the questions and issues that might arise in a crisis. It also guides the development of effective messaging based on audiences’ abilities to comprehend, digest and act upon the info they receive.
The beauty is that all of this can be done before any crisis erupts. And your messages will be on target.
About crisis mapping
The crisis mapping technique, developed by Dr. Vincent Covello from the Risk Communications Institute in New York City, has become my “go to” road map when preparing messaging in tense, high anxiety emergency situations or where risk perceptions might be higher than actual risks.
Check out the below video. It’s about 45 minutes long, but you won’t regret it! I have found it to be the most important crisis/risk communication tool I have ever come across.
The power of message mapping
We have the ability to identify the questions that will be foremost in the minds of people impacted by a crisis. We also have a science-based way of crafting messages that will resonate with them. That’s the power of message mapping.
Here’s my take on it, in a short presentation I often give to supplement crisis communications training.
Patrice Cloutier is currently Team Lead for strategic communications in the Communications Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. As such, he plays a key role in the planning and delivery of emergency information at the provincial level and in crisis communications planning. Patrice spent close to 10 years as a reporter and broadcaster with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Société Radio-Canada and as a freelance journalist. He’s an avid blogger and social media enthusiast. Connect with Patrice on Twitter.