Crisis Communications

During a Critical Incident, Security Professionals Often Become the Public Face of an Organization

In the first moments of a critical incident, security officers can initially become the “out front” people for the company.

Crisis Communications: Are you Prepared?

Only 7–10% of all communications are verbal and more than 85% of all communications are nonverbal in nature. Nonverbal communication is the subtle (or obvious) body movements and gestures that communicate messages without words.  The security professional’s small body movements, as seen by the general public, become the organization’s message.

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Emergency Management Programs

Any emergency management plan should discuss Crisis Communications and Public Information.  Crisis Communications and Public Information impact and become a part of the security professional’s response and responsibilities. Developing a response plan includes four phases:

    • Planning
    • Training
    • Reviewing
    • Testing
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The phases are circular in nature. When security professionals review the phases, crisis communications and the public information impact should be considered. The International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO) sponsors the Certified Protection Officer (CPO) Program and The Professional Protection Officer as resources to develop plans.
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Critical Incident Scenario

In any critical incident there may come a need for security personnel to communicate with:

    • Victims and their families
    • Other affected people, such as employees or bystanders whose normal routine are interrupted
    • Media
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For instance, a tower type office building may have security acting as access control. An employee or casual visitor with a medical emergency may disrupt normal access procedures. In addition to reporting the medical emergency, security personnel may also be called upon to:

    • Render first aid until relieved by Emergency Medical Services
    • Maintain a perimeter to permit first responders to perform their actions
    • Establish alternative access flow to maintain business operations or recovery actions

It is easy to see how each of these actions can bring the security professional into a sensitive encounter. The security professional’s crisis communication skills, verbal as well as nonverbal, will directly impact whether the organization is successful in handling a critical incident.

The Security Officer as Public Speaker

While interacting with the public, the security officer effectively becomes a public speaker. This infographic from Entrepreneur provides 10 Body Language Tips Every Speaker Must Know. Although the infographic is geared toward presentations, most of the tips are effective for anyone who may find themselves thrust into a public speaking situation, such as directing normal visitor flow towards a temporary access/exit point.

By incorporating public information strategies into emergency response plans, the security department prepares security professionals before a critical incident occurs. For once an incident occurs, the security officer can be thrust “out front” for some period of time, and therefore should be knowledgeable of public relations policies and procedures.

Ad-hoc Media Queries

When faced with ad-hoc media queries, the security officer should be well-versed in the organization’s policies regarding media access. The Professional Protection Officer recommends the security officer:

    • Use their very best public relations skills.
    • Be polite, and give the media the number to reach the public information officer (PIO).
    • If they press for a statement, be polite and continue to refer them to the PIO.
    • If the PIO is on site, direct them or take them to the PIO.
    • If they press further, call in a supervisor, who will repeat the above.
    • NEVER be discourteous.
    • NEVER say, “No comment!”
    • NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give an interview!

Finally, under no circumstances should perimeter access control be relaxed to accommodate the media.


Online Security Training

High Impact Training Solutions offers online Certified Protection Officer training as well as professional development topics such as physical security protection, retail loss prevention, and public events security. Courses are available individually to security professionals or as part of a customized online training library.

Posted in Security by sonictemple at December 31st, 2013.
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