Crisis communications specialist helps reporters, relief workers decipher roles at June 26-29 event in Chicagoland
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One of the nation’s leading experts in Christian media and crisis communications will help faith-based journalists and humanitarian aid workers decipher each other’s roles at a groundbreaking “crisis summit” this month.
Veteran journalist and crisis communications specialist Palmer Holt, founder of InChrist Communications (ICC, www.
The one-of-a-kind event — taking place as multiple humanitarian crises erupt on the global stage — will bring together some 100 Christian journalists, publishers and faith-based disaster response professionals from more than 20 countries.
“One of the biggest challenges facing journalists covering a major humanitarian crisis is trying to accurately ascertain exactly what’s going on as an often-chaotic situation evolves,” Holt said.
“My job is to help relief organizations, mission agencies and churches at the scene connect and communicate effectively with the media, and help journalists get the information, interviews and compelling stories they’re looking for.”
Telling the Story in a Crisis
While some Christian agencies are well prepared to assist journalists during a crisis, others are not set up to cope with a sudden media deluge, Holt said.
“Mission agencies and other faith-based NGOs typically are not as nimble and well resourced as news organizations, and this can cause delays in responding to reporters’ inquiries,” said Holt, who helped mission agency SIM USA garner 30,000 positive media hits in response to the Ebola crisis in Africa, culminating in the cover of TIME magazine’s coveted “Persons of the Year” issue.
“While delays can be frustrating for the media, reporters need to understand that aid agencies are often responding to life-and-death situations as they occur, and having to communicate with a universe of stakeholders, all at the same time,” he said.
For relief organizations, one of the most effective ways to keep the media up-to-date with developments in the throes of a humanitarian crisis is to set up a comprehensive online press room on their website.
“Giving the media the resources they need to do their job well and in real-time is absolutely crucial to getting accurate information out to the public at the exact moment when people are clamoring to know what’s going on and how they can donate to help,” Holt said.
“Aid agencies need to grasp the moment with a sense of urgency because the news cycle moves ultra fast, and the opportunity for them to score major media coverage can vanish just as quickly,” he said. “When aid organizations do everything they can to help the media do their job, they get the best results.”
At the conference — organized by Magazine Training International and the Evangelical Press Association — journalists from the U.S., U.K., Ukraine, Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, India and other countries will discuss how to cover crises, such as war, refugee emergencies, human trafficking, religious persecution, and violence against women and girls.
Established in 2002, InChrist Communications is a national, full-service communications agency primarily serving faith-based organizations, churches, businesses and individuals seeking to reach the Christian market. Core services include branding, marketing, media relations/publicity, social media, crisis communications, advertising, creative services and special events.
PHOTO CUTLINE: CHRISTIAN JOURNALISTS, AID WORKERS STAGE ‘CRISIS SUMMIT’: Palmer Holt, founder of InChrist Communications (ICC, www.