In 2022, the RM of Gilbert Plains was referred to
Solv Communications to manage and mitigate an alleged e-transfer fraud.
Your number one communication goal during any crisis is to protect the integrity and reputation of your municipal government. This is especially vital when fraud strikes a municipality.
Every municipal government, business, or non-profit organization can better protect their reputation by planning ahead, acting wisely during the crisis, and following up immediately after the crisis is under control.
This real-life event serves as a reminder of how important it is to be prepared for the unexpected.
In This Video
Jim Manchur – Reeve, RM of Gilbert Plains
Solv Communications immediately met with the RM’s leaders, forensic auditors, and lawyers to understand the full scope of the investigation. Once all the facts were confirmed, Solv formed a crisis response team of key municipal leaders – internally and externally. This enabled us to gauge how pervasive the alleged fraud was.
Our team of veteran crisis communicators helped municipal leaders prepare for various scenarios that might unfold, with an eye to reaching and influencing all stakeholders – citizens, employees, media, and others – with consistent and targeted messaging. We conducted situational and readiness assessments, guided senior leadership in determining government and communication objectives, and performed an audit of internal and external communications channels and tools.
Many questions had to be answered:
- What controls/procedures needed to be implemented to better safeguard municipal finances?
- What was the most effective communication tools to reach specific stakeholders?
- Who controlled the municipality’s social media presence?
- Had council and employees been approached by concerned residents or media?
- Who would be the designated official spokesperson and what additional training did they need prior to answering questions from reporters?
With our assistance, the municipality released a carefully crafted letter to citizens, employees, and other affected stakeholders to help them clearly understand the situation. We also proactively released the story to a media outlet who was familiar with the municipality. This helped us shape the narrative of the story and dispel any misinformation. Other media outlets soon followed, requesting interviews with the Reeve, who was thoroughly prepared to handle all questions.
Our strategic step-by-step game plan helped the municipality proactively and swiftly communicate with all stakeholders. The result was accurate coverage in the media that lasted only a few days as opposed to weeks or months.
The bottom line: Bad things can and do happen to good municipalities, companies, and non-profits. Management must expect the unexpected and prepare accordingly.
Results & impact
Crisis can strike any time. If one were to strike your organization today, would you be prepared? Review our Solv checklist to assess your organization’s crisis communication readiness. And if you find yourself not adequately prepared, ensure the following is in place before a crisis happens.
Crisis communication readiness assessment
Crisis notification and escalation procedures and tools
Crisis scenario selection and development
Crisis communication strategy
Crisis response team (include roles and responsibilities)
Crisis response and stakeholder contact logs
Designated and backup spokespersons
Recurring on-camera media training