Crisis Communications Case Study: Atlanta Snow Storm Edition

View image on TwitterNews flash: crisis communications is one of the most important services provided by our government—be it local, state or federal.

MWW‘s Jarrod Bernstein knows: his past titles include Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Acting Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs for United States Department of Homeland Security (among many others).

We recently spoke to Bernstein to get his take on lessons learned from the most recent public crisis comms incident: the “storm” that brought Atlanta to a standstill as residents spent hours stuck in traffic on streets blocked by ice—all caused by less than three inches of snow.

The story included babies born on the highway, residents stranded in grocery stores and a significant hit to the reputation of not just the local government but the city itself.

How did the Atlanta disaster come about?

“It was a cascading series of events: the schools decided to close early, everybody had to get their kids, and they all ended up driving through Atlanta just as the city was trying to plow the very same roads.”

What role did communications play in the botched execution?

“The Atlanta school system is not run by the mayor, and it seems to me that there wasn’t enough conversation between the school system and the city government regarding the conditions of closing early.

If the kids had stayed in school for the full day (with only two inches of snow), you’d probably have the streets in better condition.”

 

Read more here.

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BPRS-DC is the premiere professional organization in our nation's capital for African-Americans in the field of public relations, communications and marketing.

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