Ebola School Crisis Communications Lesson: Ask for Help

school ebola gerard braudOf all the Power Point presentations by his leadership team members, the CEO only stood and applauded the vice president who showed he was having difficulties in his division, when the other vice presidents showed rainbows and green lights. The company was millions in debt with falling sales and the CEO knew that everyone who painted a rosy picture was either a liar or delusional. The one who asked for help was the star.

A colleague shared this story supporting my premise in my Ebola communication considerations blog. In the blog I suggested that public relations, marketing, media relations and crisis communication professionals will not be fired if they ask for help. Instead, your school administrators and leadership team will respect you for telling the truth and knowing that your truth may save the reputation and revenue of your school or university.

The field of communications is misunderstood, even by school leaders. Many school administrators hire one person to manage their image. They expect publicity. Often the president will hire a marketing specialist, never realizing that marketing is not public relations, media relations, or crisis communications. Sadly, many with an MEd or PhD don’t really understand the differences either.

Even in public relations, many do not realize how difficult it is to be a crisis communication expert. The expert is the one who prepares on a clear sunny day for what might happen on your darkest day. At the university level, most public relations classes touch on crisis communication as an evaluation of how well you manage the media after a crisis erupts. That is outdated and flawed. Preparation = professionalism.

Fearing reprisal from their leadership, some people in our allied fields would rather try to disguise their lack of knowledge and expertise rather than asking for help. The reality is the boss wants you to speak up and say, “I need help. This is beyond my level of expertise.” Most administrators, while never wanting to spend money they don’t have to spend, realize that getting help from an expert could preserve their reputation and revenue.

Don’t try to fake it. That will ultimately cost you your job, as well as the school’s reputation and revenue.

Never be afraid to say, “I don’t know the answer to that.”

Free Webinar Recording Ebola Crisis Communication-1Ask for help.

If you’d like some FREE help, please listen to this free webinar recording that explores what you need to do today to prepare for your possible Ebola communications tomorrow.

– By Gerard Braud