Communications in Times of Crisis: A Narrative
Just when you think you have prepared in every possible way for a bioemergency, it’s easy to dismiss one of the most critical areas of importance – communication. Just because you have all the bases covered clinically means very little to a worried public or concerned employees. Having an experienced, fully staffed public relations team is critical to the success of your mission. Press conferences, press releases, and live interviews all must be considered. Appropriate staff members, with experience in interview situations, are also crucial to a successful communication plan. Social media must be monitored, interview requests must be triaged, and internal communication must be completed in tandem with the external plan. Staging areas to accommodate large numbers of media members must be considered. Communications and technical infrastructure must be robust in order to facilitate the free flow of information from the media and from the hospital communication team. A deep bench of experts to speak to media is often needed, and physical and emotional closeness to the medical team caring for patients and to family members involved is integral to your plan’s success. The ability to quickly share messages with leadership is also necessary. This chapter explains, from a first-person point of view, one experience with a successful communication effort during a bioemergency.