Crisis Communications Workshop

Crisis Communications: Answer your answer, don’t answer the question

Media strategist Roger Kerson to present at Community Media Workshop’s MMC 2010

One aspect of a successful communications strategy is “you have to answer your answer. Don’t answer the question,” says veteran communicator Roger Kerson.

Having guided the United Auto Workers through the impact of decline of the auto industry in the past two years, Kerson says a nonprofit’s position when a crisis hits is as crucial as telling their story.

Kerson says the very nature of a crisis denotes negativity. He says in the age of 24-hour news cycles, constant news websites updates and social media, an agency’s integrity, meaning and work can be scrutinized.

Yet, an organization’s line of defense can be to put the problem in a proper context.

“When someone asks ‘why’, you don’t accept the premise of the question. Guide them to your bullet points of your answer. You have to be ready to reframe and put the situation in context,” says Kerson.

In the “Crisis Communications” workshop at Making Media Connections 2010, Kerson introduces strategies nonprofits can adopt when creating an action plan for a crisis.

He says organizations need to think fast, be ready and knowledgeable about their organizations so “when the [media] spotlight hits you, you better be ready to make it shine on you.”

Highlights of the Crisis Communications workshop include: focusing on your organization’s plan for dealing with the unexpected, benefits of telling your agency’s story your way, and keeping the focus on your organization’s successes during a crisis.

Kerson says determining your communication strategy is as important as your organization’s overall strategy particularly when dealing with an onslaught of media attention.

“You don’t want to be a cast of characters in someone else’s movie. You want to be the director and producer of your own story, the life story of your organization,” says Kerson.

Register for “Crisis Communications” or contact Maggie at 312-369-6400 or email

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