Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
November 9, 2009

Crisis Communication: Your Mindset Rewired

This half-day, pre-Conference session by James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, CCEP, proves you don’t have to have all the presentation bells and whistles to hold the attention of your audience! Through strategic conversation, supplemental handouts and breakout sessions discussing real crisis scenarios, The Strategic Advisor in Action During Crisis session challenges public relations practitioners to re-evaluate how they interact with the media during a crisis situation and become better managers, leaders and people in these tough situations. Lukaszewski claimed he was not teaching public relations, but changing our mindset to view a crisis as an operator and management function. More than just a matter of semantics!

How many of us have been in a counseling position in a time of crisis only to have the chief executive bring in an outside consultant to say the exact same thing we have been communicating to management? Lukaszewski stated communicators are not problem solvers; communicators give options for management to choose solutions. The job of the public relations practitioner is to offer these business options in an intentionally different and helpful method to make constructive differences.

Stay in the game with these lessons learned:

  • The situation is not about you; it is about them.
  • Facts are debatable, but leaders live by stories, and in times of crisis want to hear from more than one voice. 
  • Always say things that matter.
  • You must have a personal communications philosophy.
  • All crises are matters of trust.
  • Stop harping and do something management wants.
  • Stay in the game by offering three options to get the job done.
  • Divorce yourself from your own advice.

It is important to note the session conversation was high level and focused on strategic mindset versus tactics. If offered in the future, I highly recommend this session to challenge your old thought and inspire new direction and guide posts for dealing with the media and your boss.

By Lauren Vargas is a community manager at Radian6, based in Boston, Mass. She is a well-known public relations blogger and speaker who specializes in integrating social media tools into communications/marketing and business strategy. Vargas is a multi-faceted communications professional with experience in internal and external corporate communications, governmental affairs and community relations. Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn and Twitter.


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