Sometimes the news cycle dictates how publicists go about their business, forcing them to pause media outreach on behalf of clients and rethinking social media editorial calendars that have long been in the works. Sadly, this was the case on Monday as the nation learned of the bombings at the Boston Marathon
This has happened at least two other times within the past six months as the nation grieved from tragic losses from Hurricane Sandy and the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre. It appears the massive explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas on Wednesday night
will be another of these tragedies.
It’s hard to know what to do in that situation. But after the initial shock wears off, publicists need to spring into action to communicate both internally and externally as needed. Here are some fast actions to consider:
Review the situation.
Do you have operations in the affected area? Do you have clients that do? If so, check in with them. As necessary, refer to your crisis communications plan.
I’m not suggesting that you stop pitching indefinitely, but you should understand that all news outlets will be looking at breaking news and will not be entertaining new pitches in the moment of crisis. You should pause non “breaking news” pitching until the news cycle resumes some normalcy.
Review social media.
What have you scheduled to post across your social media channels? Does it still make sense to do so? You should pause any posts that are not relevant to the news cycle. You can issue a statement of support of those suffering.
RELATED: How social media managers should react when tragedy strikes
Rethink your schedule.
Whatever you had planned for the remainder of the day, the day following, etc. may have to be rejiggered. Update any pitching plans, social media editorial calendars, media events, etc.
Dust off your crisis plan.
All companies and organizations should have a crisis communications plan. If you don’t, now is the time to work on that. If you do, now is the time to update and edit it. Then, you should practice it: test the phone tree, conduct a mock crisis (can be a table-top exercise), etc. This will ensure that your key players know their roll and how to respond if a crisis affects your organization.
Consider what happened, the news cycle, and how to be an ally to the media and your audience. It is likely they are not “business as usual”; you need to figure out what this means for your business and your client.
Nicole Ravlin is a partner and publicist at PMG Public Relations. Follower her on Twitter @PMGNicole.