Via Bernstein Crisis Management Blog: Build Your Army

It starts with your customers, clients, users, whoever. What you’re doing for them on a day-to-day basis defines how they’ll treat you when you need them. Are you going out of your way to be helpful? Are they buying from you, or from a “big-no-name-store?” Will they get a human being on the line when they need one, or will they go into voice mail hell?

Here’s one that I can appreciate. For those of you in the private sector, this seems like a no-brainer. Respect your customers. And even for some of the more forward-thinking government agencies, this makes sense. Take care of your constituents.

(And seriously, if you don’t think this makes sense or is critical? I think you’re in the wrong business — any business!)

I’ve talked in the past about building up your goodwill with your customers. If you’re a respected member of the community, those who respect you will come to your defense. I’ve seen it happen, and have been lucky enough to have been defended by my constituents, so believe me when I say it works.

Normally, I wouldn’t pass this link along because it’s so basic. But the title reminded me of something that I wanted to mention about, well, building your army.

Think about who are the people most invested in seeing you succeed? Well, besides yourself–and the taxpayers–and the elected official. Your fellow employees, maybe?

Shouldn’t the people you work with be your best ambassadors? I mean, they work there! I don’t know how much outreach goes into worker bees in private industry, but I know that very little of that takes place in government.

The place where this would really pay off is during an emergency. “Hey, you work for the Health Department? What’s going on?” Now, how would you like your sanitarian to answer that question?

A) “Me? I dunno. They don’t tell me nuthin.”


B) “Well, it sounds bad, and I know the news is all over it, but we’re giving out antibiotics to people who were exposed. Go the website to learn more.”

You’ve got HUNDREDS of built in outreach workers who are well-known in their own community, yet we continue to struggle with developing outreach programs and training folks in the community to deliver messages in an emergency. Why do we continue to ignore the best ambassadors we’ll ever have?