Crisis Communications? NO SWEAT.
Updated: May 19, 2020
Given the times we're in, battling COVID19 worldwide, I thought I'd share my all time favourite crisis communications story. Started in a new ministry (one of four I worked in during my time at Queen's Park) in the Minister's office as communications advisor. Days after beginning the new role, a propane site explodes (Sunrise). My phone starts blowing up (no pun intended) and I had NO idea why. I was in the Ministry of Consumer services??? What's propane got to do with us? Turns out the DAA (Delegated Administrative Authority) that the propane sites fell under was part of our Ministry.
Well, I never moved so fast in my life! Daily media updates, quick action to order safety inspections at all sites across the province, working closely with the DAA (they're in charge but the buck stops with politicians) and bringing in experts quickly to make recommendations -- meant we got through it pretty well. Sad note: I still recall that the only person killed in the blast was an employee, a 25-year-old international student from India. When the explosion happened, he ran toward it rather than away - perhaps to try and help.
Crisis communications can be a scary thing. When media are banging on your door, the inclination is to hide or send them elsewhere. But leaders and organizations that step up earn respect. It's very gratifying to be able to provide good information, see it make a difference, reassure people, and often lead to long term improvements and changes. And something about the pressure and high stakes of a crisis focuses everyone to work together and get things DONE.
All these years later we're still at it. My colleague from those days and KPW partner Karman Wong served as issues manager to Premier Dalton McGuinty and our other partner Naomi Parness, a media veteran, has covered and seen it all -- including the blast which she covered for CTV News while pregnant! Today we're supporting our clients as they go through some of the most challenging times of their lives. Giving them the guidance they need to not only survive but shine. Best of times - worst of times. We'll all in it together! #flattenthecurve #seeyouontheotherside #PR #comms #crisis #media #teamwork #team