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The content and timeliness of post-theft communications have an enormous impact on your organization’s reputation and ability to recover stolen items. The goal of post-theft communications is to disseminate key information quickly and consistently through a designated spokesperson while avoiding speculation, accusations, and sensation. Your leadership should manage your organization’s communication strategy. Learn why this is so important by reading Myths and Facts about Post-Theft Communications.
Communicate with Staff and Board
Your board and staff should be informed of the theft as soon as possible without compromising the investigation. The message is best conveyed in meetings followed by email messages for those unable to attend.
Communicate with the Media
Your leadership is responsible for crafting your media communications strategy in consultation with your counsel and public information office, if available. Your strategy may include the following steps:
- Prior to communicating with the media, make sure to notify your staff, board, and donors.
- Designate only one individual to discuss the situation with media. Provide instruction to other staff on appropriate management of media inquiries.
- Develop and disseminate a press release, in consultation with your counsel, the investigators and prosecutors, and public information office, if available.
Communicating theft to the media will enable your organization to frame the incident on its own terms, rather than responding in reaction to inflamed calls or questions. The message should be clear and consistent, minimizing the possibility of negative coverage for your organization.
Media coverage will help focus attention on the missing items, improving your ability to reclaim stolen material in the future. It will also empower your organization to confirm your commitment to prosecution and highlight the problem of historical records theft.
In the aftermath of a theft, it is easy to forget the media once the initial attention has subsided. To sustain your visibility, consider issuing a new release with each subsequent development regarding the theft. This may include the actual implementation of security upgrades, the status of any civil or criminal case, and recovery of stolen items.
The period between theft discovery and theft resolution provides an opportunity to establish your commitment to security and intolerance of theft. Your repository may benefit from the attention of the media, and the media will appreciate any updates.
Communicating with Stakeholders
Open communication with other stakeholders including donors following a theft is important. They will find out about the theft at some point, and it is far preferable that they receive this information directly from your organization rather than another source. Your stakeholders should be given an opportunity to ask questions and obtain information to address their own concerns, particularly if donated items were among those stolen.