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How to Respond When Crisis or Disaster Hits and Media is on the Way

InChrist Communications President Addresses Issues and Solutions at Annual Convention of Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — About 90 percent of the successful handling of a public relations crisis can be put in place before an actual event occurs, according to veteran public relations professional Palmer Holt, president of InChrist Communications (www.inchristcommunications.com), a faith-based communications firm.

“Today’s accelerated news cycle means an organization needs to be ready to respond within a few hours – sometimes within a few minutes — when a crisis hits,” said Holt. “Without having the appropriate plan, people, processes and resources in place beforehand, it is nearly impossible to respond appropriately and effectively.”

Holt will describe in detail how to avoid pitfalls and perils when dealing with crises rescue missions might encounter in his seminar, “Media, Crisis and Reputation Management in Changing Times,” Friday, June 10, at the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM) annual convention in Jacksonville, Fla.

There are simple steps an organization can take to prepare for a crisis, said Holt. Deciding who will gather information for the media, who will prepare it and who will deliver it are key steps in designing a crisis communications plan. Other undertakings that can be completed ahead of time include: developing media relationships and distribution lists, talking points and press release templates based on potential crisis scenarios.

“There are different types of crises, each of which requires different planning,” said Holt. “There are also stages to a crisis, and organizations that want to weather the storm will need to know and anticipate what to do at each step.”

Holt will draw on his experience handling crisis communications for SIM USA during the Ebola crisis the summer before last. He will demonstrate how a crisis unfolds, and how an organization can weather – and sometimes even benefit from – an unfolding series of events that draw extended national and international news coverage.

SIM, whose hospital and medical personnel in Liberia were at the epicenter of the Ebola crisis, received more than 30,000 broadcast, print and Internet news mentions over a six-month period. “The Ebola Fighters” were named Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2014. SIM missionary doctor Jerry Brown was featured on the cover.

Many organizations shy away from planning for a crisis, Holt said, because they don’t want to believe one can happen to them. But that is short-sighted.

“Planning for a crisis is like taking out an insurance policy. It can go a long way toward protecting a ministry’s valuable work and reputation, if some unexpected crisis occurs,” said Holt.

InChrist Communications will be exhibiting at the AGRM convention at Booth 11. Free strategy sessions are available, as well as the agency’s free crisis communication self-audit checklist, which anyone can download at www.inchristcommunications.com/free-resources.

About InChrist Communications

InChrist Communications (www.inchristcommunications.com) is a national, full-service communications agency primarily serving faith-based organizations, churches, businesses and individuals seeking to reach the Christian market. Core services include branding, marketing, media relations/publicity, social media, crisis communications, advertising, creative services and special events. The firm excels in strategic planning, creative concepts and solutions, tactical execution, adherence to timelines and budgets, demonstrable results and customer service.