In our "Ask the Experts" webinar, we heard from Attorney Morgan Bryant of McCabe, Trotter & Beverly, P.C. on Communicating in a Crisis. Though this topic is particularly relevant in today's environment, it is one that is always of special importance to board members as it touches on communications not only surrounding Covid-19 but also those relating to other crises such as severe weather events like hurricanes.
One of the most important aspects of this topic is how to define a crisis. Are there specific criteria that put an event in the crisis category? And, once an event is determined to be a crisis, how should board members proceed? Ms. Bryant advises that once a crisis determination has been made, the next thing board members should do is figure out "the how, the means and by whom" in reference to the communications that will be put forth. There are various answers to these questions which she addresses in her presentation as well as several pitfalls that board members should avoid (hint: don't use social media to communicate with your membership!).
Another important aspect of crisis communication, of course, is the language contained within. In this section of the presentation, Ms. Bryant dives into the ins and outs of defamation, slander, libel and how board members can best protect themselves from liability issues and damages.
The presentation ends with three questions board members should ask themselves before putting forth communication to their association membership as well as an ever-important caveat - don't inadvertently create a crisis with the communication your board has sent out.