If you haven’t had a chance, review Majority Strategies’ “How to: Communicate in a Crisis” guide. This document is a case study serving as an addendum to that document. Here we will examine how Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and his team have set the bar for crisis communications.
Successful organizations navigate trying times by designing a crisis communications strategy of effective, clear and pro-active messaging to their target audience across offline and online channels.
How has Governor DeWine done this? He is holding daily press briefings that Ohioans count on, live streaming the updates for concerned citizens. The Governor partners with health experts and business leaders to confidently deliver information in a way that apprises Ohio of what is happening without stoking fear or downplaying the severity. As a result, DeWine has stayed ahead of the panic and is setting an example for leaders across the nation.
DON’T PANIC. PIVOT
Governor DeWine is the epitome of poise and confidence. As a recent opinion piece on Cleveland.com said, “We are witnessing the finest hour in Mike DeWine’s long career in public life.” And Governor DeWine is pivoting – not away from the crisis, but towards solutions and information.
BE CONCISE AND KEEP IT SIMPLE.
At his daily press conference on March 18, DeWine said, “With or without a test, the virus is here. It lives among us and we must be at war with it … It cannot do its damage without us. We are the enablers … We have it within our own control to decide how fast it spreads.” The simple message: stay home, stay calm, but take this seriously.
TARGET YOUR AUDIENCE AND COMMUNICATE ON A LOCAL LEVEL.
While Governor DeWine has been recognized nationally for his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, he isn’t talking to the nation in his communications; he is talking to Ohio. Other states have followed his lead with suggested closures, increasing social distancing, and other protective measures, but when Governor DeWine speaks, he is talking to Ohioans. He knows what his audience needs to know and how to talk to them about it. He is working with health professionals, business leaders, and other elected officials to gather information and form a partnership.
USE EVERY TOOL AT YOUR DISPOSAL.
Governor DeWine harnesses the power of the media and online technology to disseminate information. In addition to his daily briefings, Governor DeWine and his team are regularly updating his twitter page to keep Ohioans informed.
Additionally, the Governor’s office has launched a website that contains the latest statistics, contact information for concerned citizens, as well as the latest information about closings, executive action, and other developments. It also offers resources for parents and families who are dealing with the school closures.
DeWine is also using radio with spots regularly playing across the state directing people to the state’s website and phone number.
For those without the ability to call a daily briefing, Facebook live, other social media posts, digital advertising, and direct mail offer additional tools and resources.
DeWine has been praised by political allies, adversaries, and the media for his steadfast leadership in this time of crisis. He communicates effectively, efficiently, and in a timely manner to keep people informed in an everchanging landscape. Whether you are a political leader, a business owner, or an advocacy specialist, following the DeWine model can help give you ideas and tools to use to communicate to your target audience in a time of crisis.