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Commonwealth's Counties

Crisis Communications Workshop – A matter of when and not if

King George County Supervisor Ruby Brabo kicks off the event.

A County’s stability and conditions can suddenly change. Weather and natural disasters, violence, health outbreaks, and public services outages are a few events that can cripple a County’s ability to serve and protect its residents.

But with proper preparation, response and recovery – that crisis can potentially turn into hope. A County’s crisis communications team can play a pivotal role in disseminating information and conveying resiliency and strength in a time of need.

That’s one reason why more than 30 County leaders attended the VACo Crisis Communications Workshop on December 3.

Attendees learned how King George County, pushed by the leadership and vision of County Administrator Dr. Neiman Young, reshaped its Emergency Operations Center to best respond to challenging events. Young talked about the County’s new tenets of emergency operations such as “all employees are considered essential personnel” and “emergency response is the responsibility of general government employees (not just public safety officers)” in an event of a crisis. PRESENTATION

Rebel Tree LLC owner and public relations expert Miriam Dickler provided a checklist of helpful communications practices and processes when involved in a sudden crisis event. Dickler provided answers to the question, “The crisis is now. Eyes are on you. What next?” PRESENTATION

Attendees worked as a team and were challenged during lunch to devise a plan for different crisis events.

Chesterfield County Director of Communications and Media Susan Pollard spoke next about managing the smoldering crisis. Pollard defined the smoldering crisis as “a condition that is potentially damaging and of which someone in the organization has knowledge, or should, but does nothing.” PRESENTATION

The workshop was hosted by King George County Supervisor Ruby Brabo, who also led the discussion on crisis communications by inviting attendees to share their stories. Many expressed a gained perspective on the issue and some even said they know how they would do things differently.

VACo thanks our host Ruby Brabo and the speakers for sharing their knowledge and expertise with our members. Be on the lookout for more workshops on communications in 2020.

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