On October 22, 2014 shots rang out downtown Ottawa, killing Corporal Nathan Cirillo as he stood guard at the National War Memorial. This unthinkable act devastated and sparked fear in citizens’ minds, causing a frenzy of conversations and rumours. Where did the assailant flee and where was he headed? Was there also an active shooter at the Rideau Centre? As these very questions and numerous other claims flooded the Internet, Ottawa Police Service (OPS) had already undertaken a number of crisis communications measures, with public safety as its number one priority.
Anat Cohn, corporate communications specialist at Ottawa Police Service, recently sat down with our producer Ashlea McGrath at MARCOM Professional Development Annual Forum to discuss her experience in crisis communications on that tragic day in 2014, and the vital role social media played in helping OPS communicate with the public at such a crucial moment.
In this episode, Anat Cohn discusses:
- The importance of sharing consistent, timely and accurate information with the public in times of crisis to quell fears and rumours.
- Ways to build trust and credibility – with internal team members and the public – before, during and after a crisis situation.
- Why support from senior level management is paramount to the success of a crisis communications program, and how it can be earned.
- Metrics that will help communicators identify the efficacy of a crisis communications program in the aftermath of a crisis.
- Advice for communications professionals considering a career in crisis communications, or with an organization that may face it from time to time.
To learn more about the role social media played in Ottawa Police Service’s crisis communications outreach on October 22, 2014, read Power of Social Media available here.
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This episode was produced by Ashlea McGrath of Thornley Fallis Communications.