Let the communicators communicate

Often one of the most frustrating aspects of a communications professional’s job is gaining authorization from management/leadership to distribute information. In this day and age, it is important to get the message right, but it is also important to get the message out. There are ways to do this in a timely fashion. When I read things like the following in news articles, I cringe. I know exactly how the communications staff feels.

The lack of a communications chief was perhaps the most “maddening” deficit, one former worker said. When Hurricane Sandy hit, the media relations team, short of staff, was overwhelmed. One spokesman, Mark Gross, became ill from exhaustion in the middle of the crisis and was ordered to take a day off.

Behind the scenes, Cuomo aides insisted that they sign off on all news releases. Ms. DeRosa said that this was because inaccurate information had gone out, and that the requirement significantly improved the authority’s communications.

But according to former authority executives and to emails, it became a cumbersome process that delayed getting information to customers.

As a result of this “maddening” (good word choice, by the way) supervisory “deficit,” a lean staff was overwhelmed and control and dispersal of information was ceded to the media and others who did not have access to information updates of critical importance.

When the communication is about when power will be turned back on for people after a catastrophic storm, and it is delayed for a reported 12 hours, things can get dicey. As the story points out, an outside entity was asked to take over management of PR and did so, with the caveat that the administration was only allowed 15 minutes to review media releases before they were distributed. Sanity was restored.

The point is that it should have never gotten to this point. Organization’s hire communication professionals to handle the job of creating and distributing messaging and information. Let us do our job. In the end, we’ll all be better off for it.