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Everything old is new again: Christie scrutinized for cameo in NJ tourism ad

Shades of “I Love New York” circa 1977: it’s time for legislatures – around the world! – to stop politicizing travel marketing, and recognize that the Governor of any State (whatever his/her party) is the “Welcomer-in-chief.”

Whether it’s John Dyson or Chris Christie, the face in an ad says “(Fill in the blank state) welcomes your visit!”

Christie scrutinized for cameo in NJ tourism ad

“Is New Orleans still safe?”

That question, a USAToday headline yesterday (, followed a seemingly random shooting that injured 19 people, including two children, at a second-line parade on Mother’s Day. By today, a suspect was named, ( and the possibility the incident was gang-related was noted.

This was the third shooting on a holiday in New Orleans just this year: five people were injured near a Martin Luther King Day observance in January, and four in a Mardi Gras attack in February. Police spokespersons assured the public there would soon be an arrest

The beloved city is still a draw for visitors, but an accumulation of such incidents – with the coverage of each reiterating the details of earlier ones – will leave its mark.

In the words of Mayor Landrieu, “It’s a culture of violence that has enveloped this city for a long period of time … and it’s one of the things that we as a community have got to stop.”

We’re rooting for you, New Orleans – but it won’t be easy, even for the Big Easy.

Oh, No, Carnival: Not AGAIN!

$155 million, 2.5 months in drydock, 3,006 passengers aboard: and the overhaul of the Carnival Sunshine (formerly Destiny) isn’t ready for prime time, reports USAToday’s Gene Sloan, in a story headlined More trouble for Carnival as problems hit revamped ship:

So many are rooting for you to get it right, Carnival: you MUST know that the eyes of the travel industry are upon you, and that every screw-up/slip-up/miscalculation will recall the Carnival Triumph‘s “Cruise from Hell” (See my February 26 post here

Your company is an icon of the cruise industry, and so the headlines…make the next headline a good one, by taking the time to get it right, and explaining to your guests if things are yet up to snuff, with an appropriate concession.

From the drawing below, which accompanied the USAToday article, Sunshine will be an amazing ship. I hope the next time we hear of it, it will be a rave, not another negative review that resulted from factors you CAN and SHOULD control.


Need Inspiration to Finish That Crisis Communications Plan? NOLA and Ohio Have Some for You!

Bill Geist, whose Zeitgeist Consulting website ( – sign up for his free newsletter) is always a source of interesting information on “Tourism. Trends. Tactics.Technology.,” has also created, packed with useful links and posts.

And if you need a good example of a crisis communications plan, two are available, from New Orleans and Ohio, right here:

At 64 pages, Ohio’s is far longer than NOLA’s 16, but includes helpful tips on handling interviews, and serving as a spokesperson. Though it’s dated 2003, much is still relevant today.

Download them both, read them over, review my Four Steps to preparing yours, and – get going!

Boston: Strong(er) in the Face of Terror

“Boston Strong” has become a rallying cry since the devastating bombings near the finish line of last week’s Marathon, which grievously wounded more than 170 spectators and – ironically for a running event – left so many losing legs or feet.

“Boston Strong” merchandise was being sold to benefit the victims almost immediately, with groups and individuals establishing a variety of initiatives to help mitigate the towering medical bills that many are sure to face. Just a few examples, among the nearly 7 million citations on a web search for the phrase:

The Los Angeles Times used the expression in a major story about the bombing, titled

‘Boston Strong’: A proud city shines through its pain:

The outpouring of support from the running community around the world has been heartwarming, as shown in this gallery of running events that will now honor Boston:

No races have been canceled, though last Sunday’s London Marathon added extra security. And even FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski tweeted about Boston Red Sox’ David “Big Papi” Ortiz’ on-air f-bomb: “I stand with Big Papi and the people of Boston.”

Reminiscent of the support of the nation for New York City (and Boston, too, to a lesser degree) after the 9/11 attacks, the worldwide show of solidarity is likely to produce the opposite effect the bombers apparently sought: a desire to stand with the victims – which include the City of Boston for this iconic race of Patriots’ Day – not to cower in fear; and a renewed spirit, nationwide, of defiance of the attempt to instill fear.

The proud spirit of Bostonians was shared by many of us, helping mitigate the loss of life and terrible injuries, and remind us of the price we must sometimes unwillingly pay for freedom.

Almost Done: Your Crisis Communications Plan, Step Four

Actually, that headline is a bit of a tease: you’re NEVER “done!”

Step Four, in some ways the most important, is simple: Update your plan frequently.

Notice that the first field on that contact form I discussed last week is “Date Completed.” There’s nothing less useful than a database that’s out of date; that’s doubly true with your crisis contacts!

At least once a year, review your “what-ifs” scenarios.  Many things may have changed.  There may be new organizations or facilities in your community, or concerns that didn’t exist last year.  That means there may be new individuals you need to add to your Crisis Communications Contact Roster.

Be sure to reconsider the members of your core Crisis Communications Team at this point, too.  People leave, move on to other jobs, new people are hired, and new skills are needed. 

Perhaps there’s an intern with a particular skill that would be useful ― often, this is their facility and expertise with social media.  During their internship, you may want to assign them to be a member of your communications team.  They’ll be supervised with someone with more seniority and perspective, of course. But it can be a great opportunity to tap into knowledge that might not have been available internally when you pulled your plan together. 

On the other end of the spectrum, you might add a senior staffer with experience that could enhance your

existing team, such as a crisis they have encountered and surmounted, or expertise in an operations area where a crisis could occur.

At least twice a year, update your contact list and distribute it to all team members.  Put a reminder in your calendar for January and July ― and don’t “snooze” it for more than a day!

E-blast everyone on your list, attaching an editable copy of their latest form, and ask them to update it within a week.  If they’ve moved, been promoted, taken another job, and/or changed their home email-address in the past six months, they might not have thought to tell you, as well as their friends and family.

You may find that someone is no longer appropriate as a contact because of they’ve been promoted or reassigned. If their organization is still important to you, ask for a replacement and contact that person directly to confirm their status and gather details.

NOW you can relax – knowing you’ve planned ahead, and have added alerts for future updates to your calendar!Image


How’s Your Crisis Communications Plan Coming Along? Step Three, Right Here!

If you were faced with a crisis tomorrow, who would you call, beyond your newly-selected Crisis Communications team?

Your staff? Your Board? Your lawyer? the police/fire/health departments?

Who do you need to know, and who needs to know you? (Remember, in a natural disaster, fire or explosion, the authorities may be contacting you.)

Step #3:  Determine who you will need to contact in various crises, and gather their contact details – NOW!

Where do you find the people you need to find when you need to find them?

Crises rarely happen during business hours: nine to five, Monday through Friday.  They happen on holiday weekends.  They happen at two o’clock in the morning.  They happen when your key people are halfway around the world.

Therefore, the most important element of any plan is your contact list:

  • Who does what?
  • How and where do I find them (even if the power is out, and it’s Sunday on a holiday weekend)?
  • This list needn’t be 500 pages.  The size will depend on the extent of the team you need to pull together, and the people and organizations you need to notify.

It’s often helpful to establish a “telephone tree” for members of the crisis communications team, too,  specifying who will call who, to inform and gather the team as swiftly as possible.

When you’ve developed your contact list, don’t assume that you can rely on ― or even access ― data residing on your home or office computer.

What if the power is out? What if a tornado or a tsunami has destroyed your office and/or home?

Once we’ve prepared a Crisis Communications Plan for a client, it’s emailed to every member of the team.  A hard copy sits in a slim red binder on their desk, and they will also have a soft-bound copy at home, which accompanies them when they travel.

For a sample Crisis Contact Information Sheet, please email me: Add, but DON’T eliminate any of the fields already there!