A Primer in Effective Crisis Communication

Communication in a crisis is key to a successful response and recovery. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s communication and responses in the buildup and wake of the recent storm, Hurricane Sandy — which caused havoc in the New York and New Jersey areas — is just one great example of effective crisis communication. How was the mayor able to communicate so effectively? Here is a summary by www.govexec.com.

  • Bloomberg projected confidence in the face of adversity. And not only confidence, but he influenced those around him by the way he showed up for his briefing: prepared, concerned, and quietly confident. It was his demeanor that influenced those around him and helped calm both storm victims and first responders.
  • He was consistent in his reporting on the situation at hand. He also kept the media and citizens informed through frequent briefings. This kept those within New York City calm and collected.
  • Bloomberg was also relevant. He kept things on task by providing information about what the city’s preparation plans were, who needed to evacuate from where, when power would be restored to which areas, information on how to get transportation around the city, and plans for Halloween festivities following in Sandy’s wake.
  • He made specific requests of the citizenry of Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg was very specific when making requests for those within the city to do things to help themselves. Many of these were common sense directives that were easy enough to follow — evacuate low lying areas, stay out of parks until downed and damaged trees could be cleared, and don’t call 911 unless it is a true emergency.
  • He put his team front and center. When giving briefings, those responsible for a particular area were right alongside the mayor to answer any questions. This also let the citizens and media know that recovery efforts were unified across the various agencies and gave observers the impression that matters were well in hand. Something that is important in any crisis.

For more information about how New York City Mayor Bloomberg effectively handled crisis communication during Hurricane Sandy, visit: http://www.govexec.com/excellence/executive-coach/2012/10/five-things-learn-bloomberg-about-crisis-communications/59137/