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Crisis Communications: Interview with Dcn Mark Prosser, Director of Pastoral Planning, Catholic Diocese, Sioux City, IA – COVID – 19 Crisis and Emergency Planning

Churches across the United States are responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Mark Prosser, former Director of Public Safety in Storm Lake, IA, a professional with 45-years of law enforcement and emergency and disaster planning experience, is leading the preparation and plan for the diocese. The planning process includes operations of 87 chu

rches, 24 schools, and 2 hospitals, and a radio station and newspaper. In this interview, he outlines the details of the effort, and the best practices implemented among them are:

·        Increased internal and external coordination and communications among all organizational levels

·        Use of social media and web platforms to ensure outreach to congregants

·        Stand-up of information pushes on the CARE Act and of COVID-19 safety practices

·        Sharing of best practices across the four dioceses in Iowa

·        Planning for post-COVID-19 operations and decisionmaking

·        Establishment of a post-COVID-19 working group

– L. Darryl and Kay Armstrong

#UnitedAmerica

#crisisleadership

#crisiscommunications

#crisismanagement

#payitforward

#Masks4All

#TeamTybeeStrong

@DoctorDarryl

How to Effectively Work with the M-Generation Chapter 2 of 7

 “To prevent or manage a crisis, focus on learning as much as possible as soon as possible so that you will be able to build relationships with the people who could be impacted. This includes customers, employees, and social media followers. If you do this, you will find yourself communicating with the right people at the right time and in the right place.” – Dr. L. Darryl Armstrong, Bluegrass Public Relations Society Speech

In Chapter One of this series, we gave some general behavioral insights into the M-Generation, the people born between 1982-2000, who are currently entering the work place. In this chapter, we will look at the common characteristics that further define this generation and how to effectively deal with them.

As Baby Boomers and GenXers, our parents invariably worked hard and often long hours to provide us a better life. Parental involvement was limited, and our parents trusted us to our teachers and coaches, pastors and Sunday school teachers.

Parents came to ballgames, plays and special events. We knew that if the principal or teacher called our folks because of our unruly behavior during or even after school, we would suffer the consequences, and, yes, there would be some parental involvement at that juncture! This parental involvement did not include blaming any one else for our misdeeds. We were expected to accept responsibility for our behavior or accept the consequence.

Enter the “Helicopter Parent”

brown wooden floating shelves mounted on beige painted wall
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

However, in the last 30 years, we have seen a major shift in the parental role as parents have become more involved socially and educationally with their children. As a result of this era of “parents being the child’s friend”, the parent is no longer in a role of authority in their children’s eyes.

Millenials became their parents’ “colleagues” and “associates”, and with the proliferation of the cell phone, the kids were never far from the “nest” of the parents. So, enters the “helicopter” parent, and the parents, in many cases, enjoy this relationship because psychologist say it “gives them more meaningful lives” and therefore they don’t choose to or want to “push the child out of the nest.”

The Millennials are fine with this because they are not seeking or striving for independence in many cases. Educators and others have observed this trend for years.

Yes, it is the M-Generation that chose to live in their parent’s basements as long as possible while finding themselves and their calling whereas the Baby Boomers fought for and sought early independence from their parents the Millennials prefer the security of the nest.

Teachers, and counselors in some cases, have appreciated more parental involvement, if it was not “too much”.

Employers, on the other hand, frankly have little to no interest in parents “helicoptering” their Millennial employees.

“Sadly, it is increasingly common for employers to receive phone calls from a parent wanting to discuss problems or a disappointment their (adult) child has had at work says.” Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman, authors of The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace” (Harper Collins, 2010).

Employers have even reported that Millenials have told them they have asked their “Mom or Dad as their colleague” to review their work or even do it for them. Just like they did in school and sadly, in this author’s opinion, many parents do so. These same parents maintain even more control of the M-Generation often by paying their bills, buying them cars, food or clothes and taking care of their children because after all these children are the “grandchildren” the Boomers and Gen-Xers always wanted.

Lancaster and Stillman note that one of the bigger surprises experienced in the work place is when the new hire millennial shares some feedback from a parent, who happens to be a senior vice president at a similar company.

This feedback about how the parent could do things better, if they were in charge, is not solicited or appreciated by the employer.

Senior And Young Diverse Colleagues Talking Eating Pizza Togethe

Simply, the M-Generation view their parents as valuable resources whose counsel and input will be as vital for their work life as it was when they were students. When you hire a millennial, you will get the parents as part of the bargain, whether you like it or not.

Initially, I thought this was hyperbole or outrageous complaining until I actually observed such behavior from a member of my own extended family. Since I left home at age 17 and paid my way through college, I found this enabling behavior to be an antithesis to my idea of maturity, healthy self-reliance, and productivity. I would dare to say that much of society feels the same way. But then, apparently there are a lot of helicopter parents who do not.

However, based on my own observations and research, I recommend that you forget about trying to change this perspective, or debate with the new hire (or their parents).

Whether this perspective and behavior is appropriate, healthy, or mature is irrelevant to them. The reality is you must accept the fact that this “parental helicoptering” and the M-Generation’s social behaviors are now at least 20 years into solidification, and you are not likely to change that perspective anytime soon.

There are strategies, however, that can be deployed to deal with this M-Generation behavior. One is to articulate and clearly establish boundaries up front in the working relationship regarding your feelings about parental involvement.

For example, personnel records, including performance reviews, are generally considered organizationally confidential and are not open for discussion with anyone other than the employee and her supervisors. This is a distinct and most appropriate boundary that you should clarify to a new hire in case his parent wants to explore his child’s experience at your company.

However, some researchers say it might also help to understand the close relationship Millenials have with their parents by viewing it the same way they do – as an asset when it comes to “reflection” on work place issues.

Remember these Millennials are products of parental engagement. They have been sharing and processing their experiences with their parents from the earliest of ages.

If your new M-Generation employees seemingly have this kind of relationship with their parents, encourage them to involve their parents in reflection on their profession, roles, responsibilities and chosen vocation. Do not, however, allow them to think that you and the parents will be having this kind of relationship.

Remember that Millennials don’t readily grasp the concept of confidentiality, especially in conversation with their parents. Therefore, it is important to provide them clearly articulated and well-defined guidelines on what kind of information is inappropriate for such conversations.

Lancaster and Stillman note that a Millennial’s relationship with his parents is the template for interaction with other older adults and authority figures.

If you can objectively observe or ascertain from his comments how a Millennial interacts with his parents, you may uncover clues on how he hopes to relate to you as an older colleague.

If your new hire sees his parents as a perpetually available resource, he may expect the same from you. If he is open to their counsel and coaching, he may readily accept the same from you as his mentor.

Accept the fact that you will have to spend extra time and attention on the Millennials, which can be burdensome at times. However their enthusiasm for your input may leave you feeling more gratified than grumpy.

Next: The single greatest complaint about Milleninals from employers – Part 3

AVOIDANCE OF ACCOUNTABILITY – 4 of 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

The fourth dysfunction of the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team is an avoidance of accountability among team members. In the context of teamwork, it refers specifically to the willingness of team members to call their peers on their performance or behaviors that might hurt the team and prevent the team from achieving the overall mission. #Churchsafetyministry #TeamDevelopment #Leadership @DoctorDarryl

Realism provided by Nusura’s Simulation Deck Technology

Animated Don't Panic

All organizations these days are subject to crisis and emergency management disasters. Those that take the time to plan for their worst-case scenarios and be prepared in advance will survive and even thrive. Those that believe it “can’t happen to us” will not.

Perhaps equally important, whether they are nonprofit organizations, local, state or federal agencies, large or medium size businesses, or universities and colleges, those folks that don’t understand the impact that social media can have on crisis and emergency management are destined to suffer even more serious consequences than they may realize.

It has been said that imagination is the true sign of intelligence. When it comes to technology and crisis and emergency management, which is evolving daily at speeds often beyond our comprehension, there can be no argument that imagination often makes the difference between the mundane and the next level of creativity.

Recently we teamed with a relatively new company based in Denver, Colo., Nusura, Inc. – “nusura” is a Swahili term meaning “one who survives” – this company is one of the newest innovative companies on deck offering a way for organizations to test their social media and public outreach skills through the use of a training tool they call SimulationDeck.

SimulationDeck is a secure Web portal that replicates online communications tools, including such social media as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as organizational websites and blogs.

As many of my readers know, for years my firm has offered strategic crisis planning and issues management alongside emergency operations planning, training and webinars. When we were asked by a client to consider how best to bring them into the real world of social media we sought out and found Nusura, Inc. The teaming partnership has resulted in a significant contract with a federal agency. We believe our combined resources, talents and experience and a similar set of values on how to handle clients and business in general brought us to the front of the bidder pack.

Nusura’s president is Jim Chestnutt, an experienced public information officer formerly with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Chestnutt and his team of former FEMA employees set out to train people on how to get information out to their stakeholders in a timely, accurate and coordinated fashion during emergencies.

We saw benefit and value to application of their technology for not just life-threatening situations, we also saw the benefit to planning for the always prevalent developing crisis around such internal issues as reorganizations, downsizing, sexual harassment charges, ethics charges and legal entanglements that any organization can face.

Chestnutt and I both found that in after-action reports from actual and exercise events – be it an internal crisis or an external emergency – that the public information function in major exercises was not being tested in a realistic way, which is what set me out to find a way to correct the issue for my clients.

Chestnutt says that the pressure created by mock media and those tasked with testing the public information element in mock exercises didn’t compare to the reality of handling even a small emergency.

Nusura, Inc. has former public information officers and field agents from all levels of government who have experienced all sorts of internal and external crises and emergencies. SimulationDeck is the creative offspring of this group of talented professionals to mimic what happens online and in the media during an actual crisis or emergency.

The simulation Web portal has nine websites which emulate social media sites: SimulationBook includes Facebook’s core features; Bleater simulates Twitter; the blogging platform is called Frogger; their YouTube look-alike is Ewe Tube; there is a site for agency or organizational news; incident information; the Exercise Times Daily, a Web-based newspaper that features live reader comments; SimDeck News, a Web-based TV station; and KEXN Radio.

SimulationDeck doesn’t require special software, so it can work on any platform or Internet-connected device. Chestnutt notes that one person working the SimulationDeck could act as 10 people. This person can file a newspaper article, then post on the agency’s website and then act as the Governor’s press secretary and announce a surprise press conference.

Chestnutt told emergencymgmt.com that “Things happen instantly, and any simulation player can generate an enormous amount of injects, as fast as they can type and enter it.”

The tool was recently used during the Vibrant Response 13, a U.S. Army North national-level field training exercise that had 9,000 service members and civilians from the military, as well as state and federal agencies.

Dan Manuszewski, Chief of Public Affairs for the U.S. Army North, told the editor at www.emergencymgmt.com that it’s increasingly important to practice all forms of communications and that includes social media as it becomes increasingly popular.

We note that many of our college and university clients, who have been reluctant to engage in social media as a communications tool, are becoming aware of its importance when they see that their students and staff are more quickly informed through Twitter and Facebook Smartphone communications than the organization’s systems. We see great opportunity to bring these folks and many other organizations and agencies into the real social media and mass media world through such applications as SimulationDeck.

Like it or not, social media is becoming a major communications platform, especially for the current generations. Those organizations that fail to train their employees in the proper use of social media are doing a disservice to the employees and their stakeholders.

Manuszewski says that we need to make sure we understand the entire information environment – from the traditional media to the media that people are using now, like social media.

Chestnutt says that the company is listening carefully to feedback from its users and continually making improvements.

Dr. L. Darryl Armstrong, Armstrong and Associates, is a consultant and counselor. He can be reached at drdarryl@aol.com or 1-888-340-2006 or www.ldarrylarmstrong.com

Plan for the “Extreme Case” – Prior to a Hurricane

Emergency checklist
As Hurricane Irma approaches, we thought we would share some smart hurricane
preparation tips. The key is to be prepared, have a plan, know where to go and try
not to freak out. Stay calm and plan for the worse case scenario.

1. For a big storm like Irma, you need enough water to drink for 7 days.
The water does NOT have to be bottled. You can simply buy water containers
and fill them with tap water.

2. Buy plastic sheeting and duct tape. Use the plastic sheeting to line the
tub. Then you can fill your tub with water without it leaking out. You’ll
use this to flush the toilet and for basic cleaning if the water goes out.

3. Have enough food on hand to eat for 7 days – food bars and other
packaged food is good.

4. Buy a large number of Ziploc-like plastic bags – large and small. You’ll
use them to protect papers and other valuables AND you’ll fill them 3/4
full of water and stuff the freezer full. Do that by midweek to be sure
they are frozen when/if the power goes out over the weekend. It will keep
the refrigerator colder. Do NOT set your fridge on the lowest setting.

5. Get a portable radio that receives AM and FM. NOAA radio is good, but
doesn’t get you information on evacuations and other instructions. Get
batteries.

6. Get LED flashlights and/or lanterns. They run forever on fewer
batteries. But you still need plenty of extra batteries.

7. Get large plastic boxes. If you put your valuables, photos, and papers
in plastic bags inside the boxes, they will likely be okay. Put the bins in
a high place, second floor, or safe room if you don’t plan on taking them
with you.

8. Do your laundry this week! Lol

9. Start running your ice makers now and bagging the ice in freezer bags.
Fill as much space in between your freezer items with these bags as you can.

10. Freeze regular tap water for pets, cleaning or drinking in
Tupperware plastic-type containers. REMEMBER to leave a small bit of space between
the top of the water & the lids so the ice expands but doesn’t crack the
container.

11. Start using up your perishables to make more room for ice in the
freezer.

12. Fill up all vehicles with gasoline, check tires & oil.

13. Get your cash from ATM, at least enough for 7-days to get you through tolls and gas out of  town. Call your bank if you plan on leaving the state so they don’t freeze
your card for out-of-area “suspicious” transactions.

14. Screenshot all of your important docs & send to your email. Take
originals in sealed bags or plastic bins.

15. Prepare pet / livestock food & supplies. Vet records in case you need
to shelter then at a storm-safe facility.

16. Make evacuation plans and share with family members so they know where
you’re headed.

17. SECURE ALL FIREARMS & AMMUNITION PROPERLY.

18. Gather old rags & beach towels for use on your windowsills. Even with the best windows & shutters, water seeping from the wind pressure happens. A few damp towels
is better than soaked drywall or floors!

19. Shutter windows and doors and bring everything outside into your garage 
or house NOW. Do not wait until the day before. Better to get done early
and relax than wait until it’s too late, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE MANDATORY
PERSONNEL (hospital employee or first responder).

20. If you don’t already have your hurricane supplies get them now. Shelves are already empty in most places.

Although these are great tips, please rely on official
preparation, evacuation and emergency information available at the National
Hurricane Center and Ready.gov
<https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2FReady.gov%2F&h=ATMT9P9j1MvB9pcIiqMI5TZFuowiDiazB7MNymZrpFM8ZnfhD9daQNLPlLL9WM0hdIESr07SwIBroDVHDglqdvZfWjGgWYfnHsB5PwOx-j4X9mwrfEXQBHWP8vvI3upjHkfqdjF9g1AfjQTUCovBjIhVvXf9KhQ6vflGW2GtKMoKGXX-Y7dW0UvFCSeKgSEoMU3Rsi2Ab5G5didxdgNmPqgvGy-0V4NBw_HxgM75l2QYmSbUiEBJMKK6y7aNcH41ZgkfBjo-8h12h8mesR9U-PsiQvq4TArNQ5JznLA2EymydIwY0GM>