In times of crisis, people look to someone to lead them through it. Joe Manchin, Governor of West Virginia has done that well throughout the horrible tragedy at Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 miners.

In communicating the essentials about an incident that brought intolerable pain, Manchin was able to do much that was right:

Crisis Communications Step-by-Step

  • First and foremost, he took ownership of the crisis.
  • Second, he provided frequent updates to the news media, gathering information and sharing what he knew–a crisis communications essential.
  • Third, he provided the facts but never backed away from the emotional toll that this crisis was taking on the families, the community, and the country that watched it unfold.
  • Fourth, he gave this crisis a human face.  He wept with the families, he showed compassion.
  • Finally, he is taking action.  Today, he called for more scrutiny of mines like Upper Big Branch that have a history of repeated violations.  He told the Associated Press, “Right now, we need to make sure that the rules are being complied with. I can’t sit back and assume anymore…We’ve been working around the clock to see what we can do to make sure everyone understands the seriousness of this, and how important it is and the responsibility that everyone has in making the mines as safe as we can.”

Joe Manchin’s actions are one for the crisis communications text books.  Hats off to you.