Posts tagged with "strategic communications"

The danger of too-rapid response

Posted by Michael Heenan   on July 23, 2010, 9:08 am


Communications strategists love to talk about "rapid response" as a way to quell unpleasant news and get their clients back in control of the message and debate. But we've seen this week that there is such a thing as a too-rapid response. 

Regardless of which political filter you apply to the Shirley Sherrod story, it seems clear that White House staff enjoyed a brief moment of believing they had applied the art of rapid response to great success.  As we all know now, that response was based on incomplete information and made a bad situation far, far worse.

Here's Ben Smith on Politico discussing an alleged celebration as the story was still unfolding:

It's quite against the fashion in communications circles, but each year I become a bigger believer in the tactic of taking a deep breath and giving the ground a moment to stop shaking before plunging into action.  There are times when you can't afford do this, but not as many as your consultant will lead you to believe.

After all, your communications team is getting paid to communicate... waiting and seeing might be the right move, but that doesn't look as good on an invoice.

In the face of a looming crisis, everything suggest the need for action.  Get out there with your message.  Hold a press conference.  Issue a statement.  Fire somebody. Fight back fast. But when these tactics are employed with incomplete information, it's like fighting in the dark. There's a good chance most of the damage you inflict will be on yourself.

Tags: crisis communications, obama, shirley sherrod, strategic communications

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Taliban communications strategy

Posted by Michael Heenan   on May 5, 2010, 8:49 am


Brian Fishman, counter-terrorism research fellow at the New America Foundation, takes a look at the strategic communications issues surrounding the Times Square bombing attempt.  His immediate skepticism about the initial claims of responsibility by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan proved to be on the money, as the group is now distancing itself from the amateurish attempt.

Here's Fishman on the central communications dilemma facing the terrorist group:

"The communications battle around an attack is just as significant as the incident itself -- and in this case the TTP and its supporters want to claim victory despite the bomb's failure and even its still-ambiguous origin. But their message is vulnerable precisely because the attack was such a dud."

You can read his article here:

Tags: message, strategic communications, taliban, terrorism

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