The PRSA Tulsa team surprised a very special gentleman with the Steve Turnbo Lifetime Achievement Award! Our very own Steve Turnbo will be the first honoree this fall at the Silver Link Awards.

Steve Turnbo’s name is synonymous with Public Relations. Steve is active in PRSA and was named to the College of Fellows in 2002.

Steve was a partner in the firm for more than 25 years before being named chairman emeritus. Fortunately – for the firm and its clients – he’s still engaged, devoting his time to client work, business development and community endeavors.

We are so lucky to work with Steve every day. Join us at the Silver Link Awards on Oct 3 to honor a man who’s contributed so much to our industry and city!

Community Relations is a two-way benefit for our society.

Those who participate in community relations gain the benefit of giving back to their community, while those who are on the receiving end are better off from a company’s donation of time, talent or treasure.

Effective community relations begins with a commitment from the company or organization to support a cause that reflects the wishes and desires of the management team and employees within the company.  The cooperation and interest of the internal audience of a company is vital in community relations. If you are unable to get your workforce on board with a cause, it won’t be nearly as effective as supporting a cause that your employees find worthwhile.

Like public relations, the first step in a winning community relations program should begin with research. Surveys and one-on-one interviews can help you discover the interests of those who work within the organization, as well as the interests of outside stakeholders. While having employees on board with the cause is instrumental to the effectiveness of the community relations program, having the support of outside stakeholders is vital.

An inclusive community relations program should encompass four primary areas:  education, social services, arts, and business.   It often includes, but is not limited to, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, mental health, food banks, Salvation Army, homeless shelters, hospital and school foundations and Chambers of Commerce.

Companies giving back to their community should do so for the right reason.  Doing a good deed for publicity is a short-sighted and selfish motive.

A sage public relations professional once said, “Do the deeds first and then allow the words about the deeds to follow, hopefully from a third party.”

That’s good advice.

Steve Turnbo is our Chairman Emeritus and is an expert in all things public relations. He has more than 30 years of experience and has helped organizations, ranging from universities, to nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies. He is an expert in community relations, crisis response, media relations and strategic planning…to name a few. 

What happens when the phone rings and there’s a crisis? Your initial response is to call your usual crisis response “go to” person. What if they aren’t available? Take a deep breath, gather your thoughts and lead. Following these three steps can help you to manage a crisis as effectively and efficiently as the pros do.

  1. Prepare
    The first of the four steps in public relations is research. In a crisis, research is gathering the facts. Sorting the truth from fiction is a necessary step in the research phase and will help to determine and effectively measure the severity of the crisis. Fiction often accompanies truth in a crisis and it is critical that one is separated from the other.
  2. Plan
    Find a place that is private and prepare a plan. Usually the first plan involves the next ninety minutes or so. Alert the media as to when they can expect information from you and/or the client. Thoroughly prepare your client for the media; prepare key points and write a statement for the spokesperson. Also, prepare a set of questions the spokesperson should expect so they are prepared.
  3. Lead
    During the first few hours of the crisis, it is important that you lead. Be calm, composed and confident in carrying out your tasks. Emotions frequently run high in a crisis, so composure is essential. Organize the site for the media briefing and see that the plan is executed as smoothly as possible.

When working in the public relations industry, crises are inevitable.  Being prepared to handle such situations will allow you to gain your clients’ trust and further prove your abilities in their times of need.

Steve Turnbo, is the chairman emeritus and co-founder of Schnake Turnbo Frank. He has worked in the PR industry for over 40 years and has coached multiple clients through crises.