What Dr. Fauci Can Teach Us About Crisis Communications
By Paula Bosler
As the pandemic’s sidebar stories have unraveled over the past six months, a new hero has emerged. Though his life-saving work was widely acclaimed during the HIV/AIDS health crisis decades ago, today’s 24-hour media cycle has placed Dr. Anthony Fauci back on center stage. And unwittingly, he has become a one-man primer in crisis communications. Working through a virtual tsunami around the clock, he has calmly and assuredly responded in an honest, authentic and timely manner, no matter what curve ball might be hurled his way.
Watching Dr. Fauci in action has been a “Master Class” for those of us in the communications field. When we work with clients, we prepare them for the many situations that might occur. For Dr. Fauci, the scenarios seem to be endless. In our Keys to Crisis Communications, his ability to respond calmly and with clear precision is a bona fide study in effective communications practices.
Keys to Crisis Communications Success:
- Be responsive, but don’t sacrifice accuracy for speed.
- Be honest and authentic; otherwise, you aren’t believable.
- Make sure your message is consistent, and if things change, explain why.
- Plan and adapt to today’s 24-hour news cycle.
- Be prepared.
It’s been fascinating to watch and hear Dr. Fauci regularly, if not daily, even as he has been excluded from televised health briefings. With the heightened demand for factual and trusted information, there is not a media outlet, small or large, that isn’t clamoring to interview him. And the best part, he is willing to do so.
While being available is critical to getting your message out, making sure you develop a solid response is essential to your effectiveness. This is one of the best reasons to work with a respected public relations agency.
Developing cutting-edge responses not only helps to limit risks to your brand, but includes messaging specifically crafted for your various internal and external audiences, including employees, investors and the media.
At 79 years of age, Dr. Fauci has served six U.S. Presidents and has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Steadfast in communicating in a timely and thoughtful manner during the most significant health crisis of our lifetime, we are fortunate to learn from his example.
Paula Bosler is a Communications Coordinator with Haj Media.