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A Crisis in Vegas Does NOT Stay in Vegas

WelcomeToVegasNitePhoto: The Las Vegas Strip. Wikinews:User:David_Vasquez in April, 2005.

You’ve probably heard that “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” But when a crisis happens in Vegas, it doesn’t stay in Vegas. Everyone outside of Vegas hears about it.

When (not if) a crisis happens for your organization, do you have a plan?

Be prepared with a powerful and quick response to protect and enhance your brand’s reputation when the crisis hits. Register today for “Be Your Best When Facing the Worst,” a crisis communication workshop sponsored by the Las Vegas Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. Crisis Communication Workshop in Las Vegas October 7 2015Read about our workshop presenter Paul Barton, ABC on his website and my interview with him last month.

I’m looking forward to attending this workshop! Watch for highlights.


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Be Your Best When Your Organization is Facing the Worst

Golden_and_pink_sky_tree_silhouettePhoto: Sunset, Randers, Denmark. Malene Thyssen, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Malene. Dual license: GNU Free Documentation License, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5

It’s not a matter of IF, but WHEN your organization will face a crisis. Are you ready to help your organization through it?

Be prepared with a powerful and quick response to protect and enhance your brand’s reputation when the crisis hits. Register today for “Be Your Best When Facing the Worst,” a crisis communication workshop sponsored by the Las Vegas Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.Crisis IABC-LVRead on to learn more about communication expert and workshop presenter Paul Barton, ABC and how his workshop can help you to prepare your organization for a crisis:

Paul Barton, ABC

Paul Barton, ABC

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: What is your experience in serving companies in crisis situations?
Paul Barton, ABC: I have helped create crisis communication plans, dark websites and practice drills for PetSmart, APS, Phelps Dodge, America West Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce. I’ve have helped companies get through a wide variety of crisis situations including employee deaths on the job, major business disruptions, shootings and natural disasters. One of my more unusual experiences was not only coordinating communications, but also helping to coordinate supplies for search and rescue dog teams at Ground Zero in the immediate aftermath of 9-11.

PLB: What are some common missteps organizations take during a crisis?
PB: The top three missteps I see are:

(1) Some businesses think they need to wait to get all the facts verified before they say anything to the press, their customers and their employees. What they should be doing is getting out in front of a crisis right away and establishing themselves as the most credible information source. It’s OK to say “We don’t have all the facts yet, but we are aware of this incident, and we are making sure that all our employees and customers are safe and sound. We promise to keep you updated as soon as we have all the facts.”

(2) In the rush to get information out, some companies forget the importance of addressing the emotional side. Until people know that you care, they don’t care what you know. You need to establish that you care early on with a statement such as  “Our immediate concern is for the safety and well-being of our employees and our customers. Our hearts go out to the victims.”

(3) Some organizations are so focused on getting statements to the news media that they forget about their own employees. It is quite often the employees who will determine how fast and how fully an organization will recover from a crisis. And it is employees who are the face of the organization to the customers. They can be great and credible advocates for the organization if they have the right information.

PLB: What is the most helpful action an organization can take to prepare for a crisis?
PB: Practice, practice, practice. Many organizations have a plan, but they don’t conduct regular drills. Phone numbers and contacts get out of date, pre-gathered supplies get lost, and key players don’t know where to go and what to do. A failure to prepare can turn a crisis into a catastrophe.

PLB: What are the top things that communication professionals can learn from your upcoming crisis communication workshop?
PB:

(1) How to create powerful crisis messages on the fly that not only protect your brand image, but actually enhance your brand reputation.

(2) How to turn social media into a third-party advocate and powerful listening tool during a crisis.

(3) The role good employee communication can play in helping a company to recover more quickly and fully.

(4) How to be at your best when your company is facing the worst by having a good plan on which to rely.

PLB: How is your workshop structured?
PB: There is interactive learning and hands-on work. Attendees will come away with a working crisis communication plan template and many samples that they can take back to their offices and easily develop into a full crisis communication plan for their organizations or incorporate into existing plans.

PLB: What other types of workshops, products and services do you provide? 
PB: In addition to the crisis workshop, I can assist clients with writing the plan. My services include consulting, writing, editing, communication audits and project support. I can offer fresh ideas or just an extra pair of hands. And with a wide network of videographers, graphic designers and event planners that I partner with, no project is too big or too small. I also offer several products on my website including a step-by-step guide for strategic communication planning and a book on internal communication.

PLB: What is your contact information for questions and follow-up?
PB:
Readers can find more information on my website at paulbartonabc.com or they can email me at PaulBarton@Outlook.com


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Brilliance@Work and the Stars Who Make it Happen: Paul Barton, ABC

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Photo: James Lee, Chester, NH, USA

Welcome to Brilliance@Work, a series of profiles about stellar communication professionals and their best practices at work.

Paul Barton, ABC

Paul Barton, ABC

Veteran communicator Paul Barton, ABC, of Paul Barton Communications, LLC, specializes in internal communication and has helped organizations communicate effectively with employees for over 20 years. Read on as Paul shares his insights on strategic internal communication planning and best practices for boosting employee engagement.

Peggy L. Bieniek: What is most important for people to know about you?
Paul Barton: I’m an eternal learner and very passionate about internal communication.

PLB: What makes you stand out in a crowd of professional communicators?
PB: My ability to take high-level philosophies, find all their nuances and then see ways to apply them to the world communication challenges makes me stand out, along with my depth and breadth in communication. I grew up in the back shop of my father’s weekly newspaper, so I learned writing, photography, layout and design at an early age. I’ve helped usher in a lot of technological changes. I helped four different companies launch their very first intranets, and I helped two companies begin their first-ever forays into social media. A lot has changed, but the basics of communication remain the same, and writing is still the fundamental skill. Clear writing is still a reflection of clear thinking.

PLB: What are you most interested in and speak most enthusiastically about?
PB: The things we do as communicators that not only help organizations be more successful, but also enrich the lives of employees and their families. What we do is a noble profession, and I am very proud of that.

PLB: How do you help organizations inspire and inform employees?
PB: The first step is usually to put out the immediate fire. Often that’s a credibility gap between the organization’s leadership and its employees. You have to ensure your leadership has credibility before you can attempt to reach employees. Without credibility, a message is worthless. You begin to inspire employees when they see what they personally do is vital to the overall success of the organization, and then you help them to not only understand but to become part of the organization’s vision. Employees want to know that what they are doing has meaning. They are seeking clarity and purpose. If we are communicating just to inform, then we aren’t really communicating at all. We need to approach communication as an ongoing process. That process seeks to influence, is inclusive and listens to employees.

PLB: What inspired you to create your blog “Employee Communication Nirvana” and what types of information and ideas do you share with your readers?
PB: I wanted to share a vision for what the nirvana state of employee communication would look like. What would an organization look like if its internal communication function was as good as it could possibly be? What is our ultimate goal? I share philosophies and best practices that I hope inspire internal communication professionals to strive higher. I really like the feedback I get from my industry peers and the ongoing dialog.

PLB: What communication projects are you most proud of?
PB: The ones that really moved the needle for companies and at the same time made a real difference in the lives of employees – the wellness, 401(k) and safety campaigns, and the culture change and performance initiatives. I’m also proud that I was able to take struggling internal communication functions and turn them into high-performing teams. I believe I inspired a lot of young professionals who were new to internal communication. I still get calls from people who worked for me asking for advice and that’s a great feeling.

PLB: What are some communication best practices you’ve developed and/or helped to implement?
PB: I’ve developed a lot of tools, templates and processes over the years that have helped me get out in front of my work, think strategically and act as an executive counselor. You have to plan the work or it will plan you. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Having the right “tools and rules” in place sets you free to do higher levels of thinking. For instance, my colleagues and I developed a strategic communication planning template that we improved upon continuously over a 15-year period in four different industries. It gives us the structure to make sure we are on time, on budget and on brand, and the process itself has been the springboard for some real breakthrough thinking.

PLB: How do you incorporate strategic storytelling into your communication programs?
PB: Storytelling is a powerful way to communicate because it gets to our emotions. Logic makes us think, but it is our emotions that get us up out of our chairs and willing to take action. I’ve seen a CEO tell a story to a group of managers that had them pumping their fists into the air and yelling in support, and I’ve seen a safety video that had a widow telling a story about the husband who was no longer with her and her children that made the audience openly weep. A lot of front line managers think they can’t communicate company messages because they aren’t great presenters, but get them telling a few stories, and they turn into very effective communicators. The most successful employee communications appeal to heads and hearts, and storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to do that.

PLB: What are your current projects as you continue to develop your professional skills and knowledge?
PB: I’m just about to go to press with a book called Maximizing Internal Communication. It will be available in a couple of months on my website at http://paulbartonabc.com and on http://www.amazon.com. It’s full of all the tips, tricks, templates and techniques that I’ve learned and developed over my career. I’m also developing workshops about strategic communication planning, communicating change, crisis communication, employee benefits communication, and how to be an effective internal communication consultant.

PLB: What are some of your favorite resources that inspire your work?
PB: I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some great corporate communicators over the years and learned so much from them. I’ve also learned a lot from workshops and reading from the greats like the godfather of internal communication Roger D’Aprix; communication consultants Tom Lee and Bill Hiniker; writing coach Ann Wylie; measurement experts Angela Sinickas, ABC and Wilma Mathews, ABC; and technology guru Shel Holtz, ABC. I stay current by reading and participating in the LinkedIn groups dealing with internal communication and by following the #internalcomms hashtag on Twitter. There are a lot of great ideas out there!

PLB: What is your contact information for questions, comments and ideas?
PB: You can connect with me in a variety of ways. My blog is http://www.paulbartonabc.com, my business Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/PaulBartonCommunicationsLLC, my Twitter handle is @PaulBartonABC, my LinkedIn profile is http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulbartonabc and my Google Plus profile is https://plus.google.com/+PaulBartonABC/posts. I look forward to talking internal comms with you!

What best practices in communication would you like to share in future Brilliance@Work profiles? What are your ideas for topics or people to be featured in upcoming profiles?