2016-02-28

Empowering Crisis Communication through Workshops

For slightly more than a year, I have been actively involved in a series of seminars and workshops as part of the EUROMED PPRD SOUTH II program. Funded by the European Union, the program aims to increase Prevention, Preparedness and Response to natural and manmade Disasters.
One of the cornerstones of this effort resides in managing communication in times of crisis. For this purpose, we have been enabling public sector entities across the southern mediterranean with the know-how to implement an effective communication strategy, with the right mix of written, audio-visual and digital elements.
Workshops that initially received participants from multiple countries, allowed cross cultural barriers to be taken down and gave insights on how each country would communicate during a crisis, giving a much clearer image on what needed to be done on the national level.

Earlier this week, we embarked with the national workshops: a more focused "on steroids" version of the introductory workshops. The target is for national authorities to designate representatives of various entities that would be playing a key role in a smooth communication in times of crisis.

Beirut was the first to benefit from this, and I was thrilled to have kicked off this effort in my home city that, I believe, stands to benefit the most in these difficult times we are facing.
Further workshops are planned in the coming months in both Algeria and Jordan.

The Beirut workshop, held at the Grand Serial under the auspices of Lebanon's Prime Minister's Office, grouped members of rescue services, security forces, public ministries and official press agency.
Spanning over 4 days, we were able to introduce attendees to the general basis of communication, print media, radio, TV interviews, press conference and , most importantly, the proper use of digital tools and social media channels.



Initially met with resistance from some of the attendees, who deemed themselves to be already well versed in these disciplines, we were glad to later discover a cohesive group of individuals who invested themselves in each simulation. Q&As were elaborate and diverse and the audience emphasised at the end of the workshop the skills they acquired, wishing there had been more time to dwell on topics even longer.
There can be no greater satisfaction for a group of facilitators than to see that the message they have tried to deliver was well received. This group of attendees was exceptionally committed to learning and applying what they had learned in terms of crisis communication management.
While I hope they will never be faced with a crisis big enough to require them to all gather again to address it, I am twice thrilled, as a speaker and as a citizen, to see such a commitment from the public sector into issues of national importance.

Experts Team
I share the credit for this success with the fine people from Civi.Pol Conseil, the organizers at the Prime Minister's Office: Veronique Azar, Nathalie Zaarour and other staff, and my excellent expert colleagues: Veronique Ruggirello (Kalimat Communication) , Laurent Vibert (Nitidis) and Cherine Yazbeck (Reporter at France 24)
Our team of experts is currently working on a Communication Workshop tailored for the private sector. If you are looking to empower your teams with the help of multinational experts, feel free to reach out to me on patrick.chemali@sharplemon.com or to any of my colleagues and we will gladly work with you to address your needs.