By Amelia Reyes Mora, President de AF Comunicación Estratégica
In regards to the wave of negative news that has been covering our beautiful tourist destination, I share with my people some reflections as a proud Dominican of its nation. The feeling of lack of control generated by a crisis is one of the most uncomfortable feelings we can have. Even more so when the “crown jewel” of our country is being threatened.
Without warning, you feel like international public opinion crushes you. In the beginning, you think this will happen, that such a strengthened and powerful destiny will not be affected. That the best strategy may be that of the ostrich, to hide its head. Time goes by, and you realize that, instead of lowering the tide, the sea of rumors seems raging.
Time goes by, and you conclude that despite the isolated efforts the storm does not calm down, because simply managing crisis in these times is more complex than ever. No previous experience helps you much, because, with social networks, nothing is hidden. The immediacy of digital communication and false news made us a bad move.
We are learning in the toughest way some of the things we should and should not do when we have the time for the crisis:
- Not be prepared to face any crisis. This is done before the crisis happens. How much has been repeated and how little is done! We have to be prepared.
- Reacting slowly can be catastrophic. The first 24-48 hours are essential, yes, hours, not weeks !!
- Keeping calm is also essential because things can always get worse.
- Hiding the head is never a good strategy.
- Blaming others is even worse. Also, it doesn’t solve the problem.
- Trying to minimize it is self-deception that does not benefit you.
- The spokespersons must be adequately prepared.
- When there are victims, the first thing is to show solidarity and express empathy.
- The main authorities or managers should always be involved since the level of the crisis defines the spokespersons a lot.
- We need data and facts to offer the media and the whole world.
- It is the best time to call friends and allies. People with prestige speaking well about us creates credibility.
- We solve little with exclusively local campaigns if the major problem is abroad.
- If the target audiences speak English, the communication must also be in English.
- It is not the same to handle communication in your village than internationally.
- It is NOT a problem only of the government. We must all come together to address this situation.
We must take into account three key points that continue to function in all crisis communication: communicate what happened, say what is being done to correct the damage and explain what will be done to avoid repeating the situation.
I trust collective intelligence, in the diligent action of our authorities, in the business interests of our businessmen, in the common sense of our people and why not, in the powerful intervention of the Virgin of Altagracia. God help us and let there be light because there is no doubt and as the phrase attributed to Don Quixote points out: we are riding!