Within the first 3 hours from the time the bombs went off in the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings, there were reported to be over 500,000 tweets with the hashtag #bostonmarathon alone. That’s half a million tweets containing this one hashtag. This doesn’t account for any other tweets using different hashtags, tweets that didn’t use any hashtags, Facebook posts, news articles, blog posts, Instagram posts – or anything else that was published and shared online in the hours and days following the terrorist attack.
Being able to filter, manage and be heard through the incessant noise, is one of the challenges that law enforcement needs to be prepared to face and overcome in today’s crisis management.
And while this reality presents a major challenge, not being able to do this means continuing to lose control of the narrative of the crisis. It means that others – those without authority or the correct information – will have the chance to position themselves as the source of information, while rumors and speculation will have a heightened opportunity to wreak havoc.
Note: this challenge does not solely apply to law enforcement, but is a crisis management challenge that every organization needs to be prepared to face.
Helping law enforcement be exceptional crisis communicators in this 21st century
So the big question is… In this fast-paced modern era, how can law enforcement professionals plan to get ahead of a breaking story, when the story is often instantaneously already ahead of them? How can they successfully position their agency as the voice of trust, credibility and leadership throughout the management of a high-profile crisis?
I recently discussed these modern-day crisis management challenges – along with some solutions – at the WINx conference in Chicago. If this is a topic that interests you, whether you’re in law enforcement or not, I invite you to watch my 18-minute talk. Although it’s angled for law enforcement professionals, what I discuss within this presentation applies to all organizations and their crisis management and crisis preparedness. Take a look:
Simple ways law enforcement can apply this mindset to their crisis preparedness
After watching this video, Bridget Fitzpatrick, the Social Media Coordinator at the Omaha Police Dept., sent me the following wonderful message. I asked Bridget for her approval to permit me to share her message within this blog post as, not only did I find it motivational and inspiring, but Bridget provides an excellent example of the simple ways that this mindset can be applied for everyday use. Ways that will add up to benefit your agency’s crisis preparedness and crisis management now and moving forward. Take a look at what Bridget had to say:
“This video was sent to me today from one of my Lts. The timing of this video is great! Listening to this video this morning has changed how I am going to handle a mini-crisis, but one that may make a big difference in the future.
One of our officers tweeted out that he arrested a man who couldn’t pay his lunch bill. He ended up booking him and he stayed in jail for three days over a bill that was less than $20. The media saw his tweet (of course) and did a story on the cost of a three day jail sentence. The restaurant feels that their reputation was damaged from the negative publicity. My boss and I were going to have lunch there tomorrow but now I want to call them first and ask if we can come down. I want to give them an opportunity to know that we heard their concerns and that because of this situation, we have become more mindful about how we tweet things out. It takes no more effort to do it this way but the pay off will hopefully be much better for all concerned.
I also took your three steps and will continue to integrate them into what we are doing. I love Mountain View PD and I love your videos!”
Bridget has the right mindset and she’s correct. This is a simple yet profound way to allow the restaurant owner and employees to feel heard, validated and to foster the trust that they will continue to have within their police department. Well done, Bridget and team!
Attention law enforcement professionals: here’s what you need to know about WINx!
Inspired and modelled after TED, WINx is an inspirational yearly event targeted for law enforcement professionals. During this day-long conference, each speaker is given 18 minutes to speak with the audience. The goal as a presenter is to provoke thought and inspire change and growth within the law enforcement profession. The event targets thought leaders within the profession and those ready and willing to take initiative and make positive changes. On their website, WINx writes:
“This is not your normal law enforcement training event filled with long and often boring presentations. WINx is a fast paced, dynamic event with presentations that are only 18 minutes. The topics, all of which relate to the law enforcement profession will challenge you, engage you and inspire you to action.
If you are happy with the status quo and are not willing to be part of the growth and evolution of the law enforcement profession then this event is not for you.”
As a keynote speaker who speaks at dozens of events each year, I have to say that this event was truly something exceptional. It was humbling, inspiring and a great honor to share the stage with my fellow presenters.
If you’re in the law enforcement profession and interested in learning more about this year’s WINx conference, I invite you to click here.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.