Beyond COVID-19: Issue Anticipation For 2022

If we can force ourselves to peek beyond COVID and see what issues/crises might be coming in 2022, we may be able to prepare ahead of them. 

That was the topic of the panel presented prior to the Yankee Chapter of PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) annual meeting, moderated by Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA and Stacey Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA, partners at the behavioral public relations firm Jackson Jackson & Wagner (JJ&W). Panelists Vanessa Stafford, VP of Communications for the NH Hospital Association, Roz Whitaker-Heck, APR, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs for Champlain College and Jayme Simoes, President of Louis Karno & Co. provided perspectives from the healthcare, education, and nonprofit sectors.

JJ&W began by sharing this 3-step model for issues anticipation

First Step: Issue Identification.  Identify the top 5-10 issues that keep your organization’s leadership team up at night. Scan the media environment for industry issues; pick the brains of your fellow industry and PR professionals and create an “issues anticipation team” that monitors those issues and communicates regularly with each other.   Note:  put together a cross-section of volunteer employees from different departments; they will offer different perspectives (note: this has the added benefit of creating cross-departmental relationships).

  • HEALTHCARE, like others, is dealing with a severe staffing shortage – hospitals have had to transfer patients to other states because even if they have the beds, they don’t have enough staff to provide care. The hotly debated vaccine requirement adds insult to injury.
  • EDUCATION has been impacted on every level, from daycare at pre-schools to remote learning programs for colleges. COVID-19 has forced changes that were bound to occur, from re-imagining how educational content is delivered, acquired & taught to creating work-life balance for faculty & staff – all while facing new financial realities that include large deficits.
  • NON-PROFITS/TRAVEL’S new challenges include finding a way to stay relevant; COVID-19 has stimulated systemic change and “there is no going back – there is only finding a way to adapt to the new normal.”

Second Step: Issue Analysis.  Brainstorm issues that could impact your organization in a variety of categories, not just the obvious “hot” issues:

  • Latent:  back-burner issues that could becoming emerging or hot, with time
  • Emerging:  10% of the population is aware of and is dealing with this issue, but it’s not yet hot
  • Hot:  All-consuming issues you are dealing with at the moment
  • Fallout: Issues that result from or spin off from a hot issue
  • Association:  An issue that happened at another organization in your industry, but could happen at your outfit

Third Step: Issue Response Strategy

  1. Brainstorm realistic strategy options.  “What would happen if…”
  2. Write scenarios of possible futures, using a “decision tree” to predict the various twists & turns the issue could take
  3. Build templates that define:
    • Strategy considerations
    • Core messaging for each crisis, with generic holding statements
    • Members of the crisis team, with decisionmakers and approval process protocols identified
    • Target audiences & the best methods for communicating with them
    • Logistics planning

For more information on PRSA’s Yankee Chapter, visit www.yankeeprsa.org.  For more information about Jackson Jackson & Wagner, visit www.jjwpr.com or contact Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA at rschell@jjwpr.com or 603/770-3607.

Helping Others To Take Care of Our Veterans: Campaigns Encourage Sharing of Resources and Support While Building Teamwork and CSR

In the month of November, and on Veterans Day in particular, we focus on those who have served, or are currently serving our country, and we thank them for their serviceJJ&W

“Ask the Question” Listens Then Shares Resources

In its effort to listen and better serve the community, the NH Legislative Commission on PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) conducted a study on NH Veterans and identified these facts:

  • There are 100,000 Veterans living in NH – the 5th largest Veteran population per capita in the nation
  • Only 30,000 of those Veterans receive their healthcare at the VA Medical Center – not all Veterans are eligible for VA care, and some choose not to seek care there
  • Those Veterans seeking care outside the VA identified one of their challenges as “not feeling understood by the providers who serve them”

The data showed that the best way to provide the care and services Veterans need – starts with all medical personnel asking the question, “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” 

Enter, the “Ask the Question” campaign and website, funded by the NH Department of Health and Human Services. This website provides tools and information to encourage agencies and organizations from a variety of provider sectors (healthcare, social services, education & others) to 1) Ask patients if they or a family member have ever served in the military and 2) follow guidelines on how to best help this Veteran population. 

The site offers specific information to help those Veterans who are 65 and older (48% of NH’s Veterans are in this category); Veterans with families who may need support systems for children when a parent is deployed; Veterans seeking career guidance after their military career and Veterans who could benefit from the support and services offered by NH’s faith-based community.  For more information, check out the “Ask The Question” website at https://www.askthequestion.nh.gov/

Warrior Care Network: CSR for Medical Centers

Another important program for Veterans comes via a partnership between the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and 4 world-renowned academic medical centers – Emory Healthcare Veterans Program in Atlanta; Mass General Hospital’s Home Base Program (Boston); Rush University Medical Center’s Road Home Program (Chicago) and UCLA’s Health-Operation Mend Program (Los Angeles).

The program, called the Warrior Care Network, offers treatment, support and mental health care for Veterans who are living with PTSD, TBI, and Military Sexual Trauma.  Those warriors who complete the Warrior Care Network program have seen significant improvement in PTSD and depression symptoms.  Programs range from intensive outpatient programs that are 2 to 3 weeks long to treatments that include individual and group therapy; stress management; family support and education; and alternative therapies including yoga, art, and Tai Chi.

https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/programs/warrior-care-network?item=1701

The TRACTS Program Breaks Down Silos While Serving Veterans with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)

The Translational Research Center for TBI and Stress Disorders, or TRACTS, is a RR&D National Center for TBI Research. TRACTS staff come from all parts of the hospital (from mental health, neuropsychology, neuroscience, and medicine) and their only focus is the OEF/OIF Veteran population and their unique characteristics and experiences.  Many returning Veterans report feeling more “understood” by the TRACTS research team because of their deep understanding of the Veteran population. 

The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) reported nearly 414,000 TBIs among U.S. service members worldwide between 2000 and late 2019. More than 185,000 Veterans who use VA for their health care have been diagnosed with at least one TBI. TBI and its associated co-morbidities are also a significant cause of disability outside of military settings.

For more information about TRACTS, click on the link below:

The Translational Research Center for TBI and Stress Disorders (TRACTS) – VA Boston Healthcare System

Veterans Crisis Line: Outreach to Overcome Psychological and Structural Barriers

Many veterans are too proud to reach out to traditional services providers. Enter the Veterans Crisis Line, a way for them to easily connect from anywhere at anytime.  It is a free, confidential resource that’s available 24/7 for Veterans/Service members and their families – even if they are not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care. The responders at the Veterans Crisis Line are with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and many are Veterans themselves.  There are options to call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1; or to text 838255.  There is also an online chat capability offered.  Responders are specially trained to help Veterans of all ages and can help the person calling through the crisis, and direct them to the services they need.

Veterans Crisis Line: Suicide Prevention Hotline, Text & Chat

For more information on identifying signs of suicide ideation (e.g. behaviors exhibited by those who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts), visit the NH Coalition for Suicide Prevention website at: NH Coalition for Suicide Prevention (zerosuicidesnh.org).

Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA, is Senior Counsel and Partner at Jackson Jackson & Wagner, a behavioral public relations and management consulting firm on the Seacoast of NH.  Contact Robin at 603/770-3607 or rschell@jjwpr.com.