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March 30, 2010
Birds Who Roost at Crises

Here's a lead to a crisis communication Web site you might not know about by James J. Donnelly, senior vice president, crisis management at Ketchum. As you might expect, Donnelly also does communication coaching.

He's got a sharp-eyed post on "Bird Watching: Crisis Punditry" in which notes seven feathery types of crisis management experts who "have become quite comfortable publicly commenting on the crisis du jour."

Donnelly himself isn't comfortable about commenting on crises that are unfolding.

"The primary reason: It's tough to have a robust opinion based only on publicly reported information. To me, that's like a physician offering a second opinion based only on a description of symptoms by the patient's mom."

(Even so, we'd add, as much authoritative information as possible should be provided as part of a crisis management process to help mitigate an event and establish credibility.)

Here are Donnelly's six feathery friends:

Hawks -- hawk their books, seminars or services using the news of the day as their bait.

Magpies -- are known to attack the nests of other birds. They squawk about everything that's being managed wrong, high above from their wire.

Peacocks -- are fixated on plumage and other superficialities. The words, gestures, dress of a spokesperson.

Parrots -- look to the past to provide context – echoing the well-worn strategies and tactics that have worked before.

Canaries -- provide insight on the future – emerging trends or upcoming warning signs.

Owls -- provide broader context and utilitarian lessons. More than any other species, owls most often avoid specifically judging an organization's handling of a crisis. 

This serves as good, seasoned, and spirited commentary on a site packed with crisis management insights. 


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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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