The 5 prongs: Communicate effectively with your employees during a crisis

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What You’ll Learn:: 

It’s February 2012. Alyson Oüten’s phone rings. The caller is a media friend.

An experimental aircraft just crashed, and her thrill-seeking, risk-taking CEO, Steve Appleton, was on it.

As she runs for the executive suite, she is sure it isn’t true. Until she opens the door and sees Appleton’s receptionist sobbing.

You can't schedule a crisis. But you can be prepared for it. Join Alyson Oüten from Micron's Internal Communication team as she explains how her company communicates with employees in crises.

Learn how to:

  • Define the crisis before it defines your organization
  • Create a living, breathing plan that guides thoughtful actions and response
  • Lead your leaders as the communication expert and counselor
  • Minimize a "post-crisis" crisis with timed communication that limits instability and negative reactions
  • Stock your crisis war room with unconventional resources and eliminate those without clearly defined roles
  • Be transparent, timely and audience-friendly by offering conversation channels, not just one-way communication
  • Prepare for your audience to grow as the situation evolves
  • Avoid overthinking—but combine your instincts with a solid plan
  • Acknowledge and reward your heroes while you monitor burnout

What is a crisis? A situation that poses a threat to business operations, life, health, company or employee property, consumers, products, environmental impact, surrounding communities.

It may cause community or employee anxiety, or draw negative attention from local, national or global media.

Learn the five prongs of managing a crisis situation, and how they can help you manage it.

  • The plan
  • Identifying your crisis
  • Reaction
  • Tools
  • The aftermath

Find out how to set up a war room—and decide who has access. Don’t limit it to communicators. What about legal, your Web team? Learn how to avoid long-lasting effects from the mishandling of a crisis.

Glean tips for establishing a spokesperson. At Micron, outsiders were used, from a PR consultant to the fire chief, since employees would have been too emotional over the death of a popular leader.

Find out how to handle the aftermath: Debriefing and updating. Assess your team’s functioning after the fact, and share with others.

Gain tips for things as essential as what the receptionists and other front-line staff should say when they answer the phone. And remember to take care of yourself and your team. Exhausted, emotional, and hungry employees make mistakes.

Gather tools that will help you reach out. Carve out time in your busy day to prepare for a crisis.

Don’t tell yourself, “It can’t happen to me.” Prepare. Oüten will guide you.

November 2012

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Presenter bio: 

Alyson Oüten

Alyson Oüten spent 20 years as an award-winning television producer and reporter, working in Phoenix, Seattle, Dallas and Boise. Her coverage of events from the Republican and Democratic National Conventions to historic shuttle and rocket launches to national crime stories garnered her two Emmy awards and two Edward R. Murrow awards. In 2010, Alyson parlayed her communication background into a new career at a Fortune 500 technology company. As the internal corporate communication manager she directs the strategy and management of global corporate internal communications for Micron Technology, including crisis communication, integrated employee communications, company news, executive and financial communications, internal social media, portal communications and external corporate videos.