When it comes to handling disasters, natural or otherwise, it's definitely true that one size doesn't fit all. The variability of fortune is a point made by Matt Cochran, of Cookerly Public Relations on its PeRceptions blog in the context of the Bush Administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina five years ago.
Each disaster is a fresh challenge requiring careful, fresh appraisal. It's not "We've been here before," but "What are we faced with this time?"
In his book, Decision Points, "Bush talked about the success he had dealing with natural disasters both as governor of Texas and president," Cochran writes. "He said he thought his administration had disaster response down. It was a blind spot for him not because he discounted the danger natural disasters posed to America’s coastal cities, but because he had grown complacent and believed past success dealing with disasters would translate into an effective response to Hurricane Katrina. We all know it didn’t."
Yes, the winds of fortune can deal unexpected blows. Effective PR managers never assume they know what's hit them. They need to consider that carefully, imagining vividly what might lie ahead, this time.
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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