5 crisis comms tips from the FBI

Be first with information, says former FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza. Know the three things the public wants in a crisis. And never compare the boss’s wife to an Incan mummy.

Editor’s note: This story is taken from Ragan Communications’ distance-learning portal Ragan Training. The site contains hundreds of hours of case studies, video presentations and interactive courses.

When Jeff Lanza—now a communications consultant—was a fledgling FBI agent, his boss assigned him to listen in on the wiretaps of a pair of Kansas City goodfellas named Tony and Joe.

In one conversation, Lanza recalls, Tony warned his fellow mobster that he had a hunch the FBI was tapping his phone. Quick-thinking Tony, though, had outsmarted the feds: He’d gotten a new phone number.

“I better not give it to you over the phone,” Tony said. “I’ll meet you for lunch.”

“I can’t,” Joe replied.

“OK, I’ll give it to you over the phone right now,” Tony said, “but I’ll give it to you backward.”

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