Tell the truth and tell it fast

now is too late2

Book Review
Now is too late2: Survival in an Era of Instant News
Gerald R. Baron
EdensVeil, 2006. 259 p.

The disastrous shortcomings of FEMA during the early stages of Hurricane Katrina resulted from its leader’s failure to manage during a time of crisis. His weakness as a communicator, his discomfort in facing harsh criticism, and his questionable credentials all played into the story of abject failure reported by the media. As goes the person at the top, so goes the organization.

Now Is Too Late 2 offers this and many striking examples of how leaders fail and succeed in communicating on behalf of their organizations.

Your company may not be subject to the risks and responsibilities of an agency the size of FEMA, but you do have a reputation to protect. And crises happen on large and small scales.

Gerald Baron writes this book for communicators, whether CEOs or PR professionals. He writes mainly about crisis communication, but this meaty book includes the wisdom of practice in several areas, including maintaining healthy relationships with reporters, keeping up with technology, and knowing all your publics and the influentials in each one.

Writing from years of experience as a communicator and consultant, Baron says the most enlightened communication managers make themselves the first and best source of news. Long before a crisis strikes, they put in place processes that will allow them to very quickly gather and distribute needed information.

In fact, he writes that the primary message of this book is speed. That’s because technology has allowed people around the world to get information immediately and to engage in decisions that affect them.

Baron discusses how to prepare a crisis communication plan that effectively weaves together effective people, policies and technology. The single objective of a plan should be to protect,  or to build, public trust in your organization through accurate, timely information.

Make sure you have already identified the people whose perceptions are vital to your company’s current business and future health. Whether global or local, Baron says, the basic principle remains the same:  A relatively few people carry the present and future value of the organization around in the perceptions they hold about the company.


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