Thursday, May 12, 2011

James Lukaszewski on Negative Language and PR

The following video interview with James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA was taken after a recent area Communications and Public Relations workshop. The day-long professional development opportunity was provided by the Texas School Public Relations Association.
(Note: apologies for the slight shakiness of the video. Lesson-learned: Use a tripod.)

Lukaszewski's workshop focused on three man areas:
  1. Crisis-proofing your organization
  2. Building Community Relationships
  3. Being a Strategic Advisor
Jim Lukaszewski - SPRF/PRCA PowerPR Conference...Image by hyku via FlickrThis was the second time for me to hear Lukaszewski and he didn't disappoint. Here's the PR gold that was mined from his presentations:
  • We need to change the language we use; Readiness vs. Crisis Management
  • Readiness means being ready for adverse things.
  • Old-fashioned definition of PR - Do good; take credit
  • New definition of PR - Do good and let it speak for itself
  • Strategic Communicators need to ask/answer, "What do we contribute to the mix?"
  • Candor in a crisis - "If you want to be trusted, get the truth out there."
  • Truth = Absence of fear
  • In a crisis, communications becomes an operating function
  • Crises happen explosively but are resolved incrementally

On Victims and Critics during a PR crisis (and other challenging times):
  • Victimization is a totally irrational and voluntary state; it is self-maintaining and self-terminating
  • Victims use language like betrayed, loneliness, personal/personnel failure, grief, why me/us, why now, etc.
  • Victims require validation, visibility, vindication, and apology (This is part of why our media friends like to talk to the victims)
  • The strategy for negotiations need to start with what is possible instead of what organization is not going to do.
  • "Create as few critics everyday."
  • Keep your base supporters and avoid making new angry people.
  • Silence is a toxic strategy
  • You must manage the victims dimension 
  • Don't forget the obvious - Stop the activity that is creating more victims
  • The art of crisis management is to know what the mistakes are going to be
  • "When there's a crisis that needs management, management is in crisis."
  • Take in big picture without taking it personal; go to 50,000 feet and stay at 50,000 feet

This is just some of the great material Lukaszewski shared along with some fantastic information on strategically advising leadership during a crisis. He gave valuable tactics on providing operational advice and how to provide the next useful thing to management.

As a communications professional, if you ever have the opportunity to hear from Lukaszewski at a conference or other speaking engagement, I would highly recommend carving out some time and sharpen your skills.
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