“The agency — much maligned for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina over two years ago — arranged to have FEMA employees play the part of independent reporters Tuesday and ask questions of Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the agency’s deputy director.”
Here are six things that they did wrong:
- Had employees imitate reporters
- Called a press conference with 15 minutes notice
- Provided an 800 number to listen to the press conference but not participate (Hello – note to FEMA – participation is in. One-way dialogue is out)
- Positioned this as a way to “get information out as soon as possible”
- Asked softball questions to position FEMA in a positive light
- Still haven’t punished anyone for this “stunt”
Here are five simples things that they could’ve done differently:
- Hold a one-hour daily morning briefing to provide status updates on the most important issues
- Answer questions after the FEMA update and limit each reporter to one question
- Media brief your spokesperson on how to handle the Q&A and practice with questions that will be asked by the media
- Create a FAQ document on the FEMA website to answer the most commonly asked questions
- Provide an 800 number that allows two-way conversation
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Cece Salomon-Lee is director of product marketing for Lanyon Solutions, Inc. and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.
This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.
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