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5 Takeaways from the OCPRSA Crisis Communication Webinar


Perhaps more than any other time, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the immense value of crisis communications. OCPRSA was proud to host a webinar featuring Danny Craig, APR, director of public relations for Stantec, Brenda Velasco, senior director of communications for Biola University and Jonathan Volzke, senior communications and marketing analyst for the City of Lake Forest, Calif.

While certainly not a complete list, here are five takeaways from these experts:

Communicate with frequency and clarity

Textbook crisis communications practices won’t necessarily apply to each aspect of our work during this uncertain time. Velasco recommends communicating frequently to validate people’s feelings and ensure a sense of connection with your organization.

Consistent messaging across platforms and audiences Unite all comms parties

Among the panelists, audiences included residents (multi-generation), staff, government agencies, law enforcement, healthcare organizations, community leaders, vendors, clients, students, parents, donors, alumni, community-at-large and consumers.

Communication platforms included websites, social media, phone calls, text messages and face-to-face (at a social distance, and likely with masks!) interactions.

WHEW! You can see what it’s important to establish consistent messaging and a cadence for the messages to minimize confusion.

Message where your audiences are

Craig’s team leveraged Sharepoint to create a portal for client-facing managers.

As some Lake Forest residents are not entirely comfortable on digital platforms, Volzke’s team still makes landline hotlines available.

Biola students love Instagram. (Tray or no tray?)

Whether website (internal or external), social media, texting, or good old fashion phone calls, your messages only have a chance to be effective if you’re providing the information where your audiences are.

Constant evolution

Updates are happening constantly. Be nimble so your response and strategy can respond appropriately.


The pandemic is a health crisis in so many more ways than just physical. Remember this can be a time of grief: loss of lives, feelings of isolation, feelings of helplessness and more. With each message, tactic and strategy we develop, lead with empathy.

This is just a snapshot of the great information shared by our panel of experts. Want more? Stay tuned for details of a new weekly series on crisis communications from OCPRSA‘s Brenda Velasco sharing best practices and strategies, especially during this time.

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