The British Union Conference (BUC) administrators, staff, selected field leaders and their communication directors/sponsors recently undertook intense crisis communications training. The training was conducted in segments at the BUC offices, beginning with the BUC officers and directors on 3 May, the BUC staff on 4 May and selected field leaders and their communication directors/sponsors on 18 May, by a professional communications consultant.
The training aimed to provide the appropriate skills and knowledge for effective communication during a crisis. The premise was that crises could hit the best organisations at any time. When that happens, their continuing success can be determined by how effectively they approach and manage it.
The participants were equipped with tools and techniques to help them cope with any crisis. The training also involved skilling in responding quickly and effectively to the media and internal and external stakeholders whilst maintaining the organisation's morale and rebuilding for future success.
The BUC officers and directors, selected field leaders and their communication directors/sponsors had the opportunity to demonstrate their learning through practical exercises that they could apply directly to work situations. The live studio interviews generated both nervousness and excitement, as participants experienced answering complex questions on the spot.
Commenting on the experience, Pastor Graham Allcock, Welsh Mission President, said, "the practical role-playing was very challenging but helpful and being in front of a camera made it a very realistic experience. The feedback from the trainer afterwards gave added benefit in helping us be prepared to face the media should a crisis arise."
Some of the course objectives included:
- How to devise a 'fit-for-purpose' crisis communications plan and improve internal communications during an active crisis.
- How to keep the media and external stakeholders on board and set up efficient notification and monitoring systems.
- How to move forwards and turn a crisis to one's advantage.
BUC President, Pastor Eglan Brooks, said, "It really challenged us. I believe I speak for the officers and directors when I say it was a very practical learning experience and has motivated me to pay greater attention to this area."
Each participant received individual feedback on their live video interviews from the trainer, Liz Havern, radio and TV professional with broadcast and international news agency experience.