Posted by David Oates 2 weeks, 2 days ago

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The carnage we all saw recently in Las Vegas left many in horror, and rightfully so. The chaotic scene and helplessness shown in the faces of the concert goers will not go away from our consciousness anytime soon.

Amidst the melee, we witnessed a first responder corps, with the help of audience members, voluntarily entered the “active war zone” to respond. They came to the aid of those injured while hunting down the madman who committed the heinous act. Leadership soon set up the mobile incident command center that included a communications team. Regular press briefings began, and a systematic dissemination of information via traditional and social media commenced.

This is where companies should take note. While no one ever wishes to be a part of such a tragedy, the way in which law enforcement and local government officials handled the onslaught by the press was remarkable. The circumstances surrounding the mass shooting were impossible to predict, but it became very apparent early on that the public affairs team trained for things like this.

Here are the reasons why.

They Acted Quickly

It wasn’t long after the shooting started that plans came into place, deployed and releasing pertinent information. Moreover, other state and federal agencies were seamlessly integrated into the organization structure when they arrived on scene. Untrained departments frequently stumble out of the gate during a crisis, much to the detriment of their ability to stay ahead of the news cycle. Getting off to the right foot is critical during these times, and Las Vegas executed this flawlessly. 

They Never Speculated

Rule Number One in any crisis is the initial reports are, at best, incomplete or, at worst, wrong. In the first 24 hours, agency spokespeople stuck to what they knew at the time they knew it. Equally as impressive was how they couched every statement with “the investigation is fluid or in progress, but this is the most current information we have.” That left them wiggle room to modify comments — especially when it came to the death and injury toll — in future press briefings. 

Another example of this discipline came to light as reporters understandably pressured law enforcement to answer the impossible question of the shooter’s motive. Most people would conclude what they uncovered to that point. Not so here. A proper response to this will take weeks if not months to determine. Las Vegas authorities never took the bait.

They Kept Their Cool

The ability to maintain a professional disposition amidst the bloodshed was admirable. With the understandable exception of the Sheriff’s voice cracking when discussing the death of an off-duty law enforcement officer, nobody displayed anything more than sleep deprivation while at the microphone. Las Vegas authorities acted in a manner that exemplified their profession.

I’ve seen crisis events first hand that involved injury and near death experiences, but I cannot fathom the strain Las Vegas civic and law enforcement authorities felt in the aftermath of this massacre. I saw real professionals at work in communicating much-needed information to the public. Companies can take many lessons from their actions and would be wise to do so.

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