Recently we had the opportunity to create a terrifying scenario; a nuclear power plant meltdown and radiation leak are subsequently impacting the local community and beyond. The mock exercise custom designed to create a stress test for a governmental agency whose job is to protect and preserve public health.

Along with spending time in class covering communications planning and execution, maybe the most interesting and impactful exercise was our creation of a mock news conference. The idea was to put in play the timely and realistic media reaction to such a newsworthy incident. The client participants gathered in a conference room. One spokesperson was designated as a lead, but others in attendance knew in advance they may be called upon for questions. We set up cameras, lights and microphones. Real news reporters went to work, firing off top of mind questions to the group, rapid-fire style. The results were fascinating. Team leaders were quickly recognized and called upon. It became very clear which participants were “green” and needed more messaging work. Medical questions were not answered because the group realized their primary medical spokesperson had stepped out of the meeting for a phone call. Very realistic indeed.

We recorded the entire news conference and provided a DVD to the client as a point of reference and training tool. Fortunately this was just an exercise but they will be ready, just in case.