When events are unfolding rapidly, accurate information is scarce, and the pressure to respond is high; strategic decision-making is critical. Unfortunately, it is at that moment that that many institutions recognize that the very processes they rely on day-to-day are simply not engineered to navigate treacherous and fast-moving waters.

In those moments, BMCG can provide the experience, common sense, and crucial “outside” perspective, based on decades of experience, that institutions need to respond effectively. We are not a “PR shop,” law, or accounting firm that does crisis and issues management on the side. Rather, our focus and our expertise is on the high-profile issues, crises, and change initiatives that can dramatically impact your institution.

We know what works, what doesn’t, and how to prevent needlessly making the situation worse.  Our real-time support includes decision-making and crisis communications support as well as social media monitoring and spokesperson training sessions. We’ll help you avoid the mistakes that many organizations make as well as seize potential opportunities that a crisis can present to ensure that you not only survive but emerge stronger.

In the heat of a major issue or crisis, even something as fundamental as an understanding of the situation and the risk it poses may be different from one member of a crisis team to the next illustrating why the path forward can be so difficult. If your team does not even agree on what is at stake, how can next steps be determined?

We have developed a rigorous and defined methodology to help you:

  • Recognize and reconcile the disparate views of key decision-makers
  • Create a shared understanding of the risks, priorities, and longer-term strategic impacts and consequences—both downside and upside—associated with an issue through the use of a “planning case.”
  • Ensure robust and proactive decision-making by using a consistent framework to analyze and evaluate the risks, benefits and dependencies associated with competing strategic options
  • Respond in a coordinated and effective manner using tools that define responsibility and deadlines

In-house communications teams are typically very capable at marketing and promoting your organization. However, trying to prevent something from becoming newsworthy requires quite a different mind-set. Blue Moon Consulting Group can supplement the communications capabilities of an existing team in situations where a client does not have the depth of experience or bandwidth required.

We take a stakeholder-centric—as opposed to a media driven—approach to communications. While we recognize the influence traditional and social media can have on the perception of the response, we strive to avoid “wag-the-dog” communication strategies, focusing instead on the individuals and groups most critical to your institution’s success.  In fact, it is our strong belief that when the needs and expectations of those most directly impacted by an issue or crisis are met; that will be the most effective way to shape public perception.

We help your team to:

  • Develop a crisis response strategy and key messaging
  • Create key materials and stakeholder-specific communications including positioning/holding statements, press releases, media and frontline talking points, FAQs and Hard Qs (those questions you don’t want but need to be able to answer)
  • Build, launch, and update issue-specific microsites or “dark” websites
  • Prepare for media and/or community engagement events such as town halls, online forums, or campus conversations
  • Develop post-event or proactive issue briefs that document key information, latest developments, influential stakeholders, baseline communications, and important resources—in order to speed up response to fast-evolving situations and to help ensure consistency both over time and across stakeholder

Without a doubt, social media has been a game changer in issue and crisis response.  On the one hand, loud, intense, and demanding voices put pressure on institutions to respond almost instantaneously. On the other, social media has also provided a set of valuable tools to help move analysis from the anecdotal to a data-driven assessment of community sentiment, saliency of issues, and attitudes regarding the effectiveness of leadership response. But in that, social media is a double-edged sword. The same tools that can provide invaluable insight—to inform approach, identify new issues, and course correct strategy—can also lead to overemphasizing the importance of a sometimes fickle and ephemeral presence that may not accurately represent your community.

We work with your team to:

  • develop a tailored search—and customized alerts in anticipation of key inflection points—based on your institution and your issue to find and track relevant online conversations
  • examine relevant mentions, volume, sentiment, conversation drivers, ongoing and emergent themes, as well as key influencers—looking for patterns and trends—to help you actively “listen” to what social media is telling you
  • contextualize the results both to understand their importance and relevance as well as to inform a broader proactive, strategic, and comprehensive response

Sometimes called a “post incident review,” a risk assessment provides a strategic pause for the leadership team. It’s an opportunity to examine and address the underlying policies and strategic decision-making that may have led to an initial unfavorable outcome which, in turn, provides an opportunity for the team to course correct.

Learn More About Post Incident Review/Risk Assessment

In today’s highly competitive, 24-hour news cycle, every member of your leadership team needs to be prepared to face the media (and stakeholders)—whether on camera, on-line, or in editorial board meetings with prominent news outlets. While most institutions have very capable communications teams who can handle the day-in, day-out requests of media, both traditional and social, there are occasions when it is critical to have the institution’s leaders step up and represent the organization directly.

It is these infrequent but high stakes encounters—when a new strategic initiative is being launched or the institution is facing a significant issue or crisis—that can present significant risk to the institution. They are also situations in which the reputation of the institution and the relationship with its critical stakeholders can either be strengthened or severely damaged.

Our training—through practical guidance—will not only help senior leaders manage challenging media interviews or community engagement events but also strengthen their ability to communicate on a regular basis with all stakeholders by:

  • increasing their understanding of how the media works, how to handle tough questions and the art of media relations
  • “stress-testing” executives’ ability in one-on-one simulated media interviews, and
  • identifying opportunities for improvement in both performance as well as clarity and effectiveness of key messaging