Deep Dive Breakout 3

Thursday, August 1, 2019


Are you prepared for when it all goes wrong? This darkly humorous but all too real session will discuss what to do when outside forces derail your carefully laid plans. Join in the discussion and maybe share your own horror story… off the record, of course.


  • “What would you do”: a bad actor in your industry causes additional scrutiny and a poor reputation for your industry overall
      • Have additional spokespeople come out to tell their stories that counter the one bad actor
      • Share a statement that the bad actor does not represent the core values of your industry, and that this isn’t who we all are
      • If they are members of a trade association, they should be dismissed
  • “What would you do”: your partisan communications campaign is targeted to a receptive audience, but once the campaign starts, a non-member who supports the opposing candidate begins a trolling campaign attacking supporters and threatening a boycott
      • Reach out to one of my engaged locals and have them reach out to the goal on Facebook to create an organic response
      • Don’t respond at all → resist feeding the fire, continue to monitor it 
      • Do not take down your Facebook page and bury your head in the sand (speaking from experience)
    • The more you can establish trust ahead of time, the better → be honest and transparent, and if people admire and trust your brand then they will come to your defense when needed
  • “What would you do”: during your annual fly-in, an opposition group puts 200+ protesters in front of your buses to the Hill, blocking their ability to depart. To make matters worse, your members engage with protesters and some of your members put this on social media
      • Talk about best practices for what you should/shouldn’t do when engaging with a protester
      • Monitor social media accounts of protest groups to plan to avoid conflict
  • “What would you do”: you have tickets for members to participate in a limited access meeting with the Vice President. While enroute to the event, before you reach security, you learn they have guns in their cars
    • Turn around or have members get out of the car/ arrive by Uber
    • Have members transfer all guns to one car, then arrive in a different car
  • So, how do you prepare for a crisis?
    • Institutionalizing a toolkit for emergencies that can be used by everyone
      • Important to build relationships with the media ahead of time
      • There are always 3 characters in any story: the victim, the hero, and the villain → you need to position yourself as the hero
    • Making security and crisis plans part of your preparation for any event, even if nothing has ever happened before
  • Consider: what do you want the end goal to look like? What is that story, and how do we get there?
    • It isn’t just about the initial reaction
    • How are you communicating to both internal and external stakeholders?
  • Be ready to be nimble and flexible, don’t panic and be able to adjust as needed
  • Make sure all emergency contact information is up to date