A Conversation with Gerard Braud, Leading Crisis Communication Expert

June 19, 2015

A Conversation with Gerard Braud, Leading Crisis Communication Expert

By David Kazibut

Gerard Braud is the guy folks call “when IT hits the fan”. And “IT” in this case does not stand for Information Technology. Datto VP of Business Development Rob Rae sat down with Gerard moments before Gerard’s keynote presentation at this year’s Datto Partner Conference in New Orleans.

Listen to the podcast and full interview with Gerard Braud here.

A New Orleans native, Gerard watched as Hurricane Katrina devastated the city ten years ago. For him, one of the most painful memories from Katrina was knowing he had warned the city 15 years prior, about the potential devastation when a storm of that magnitude hits New Orleans. He’s learned from experience that preparation is the key. While proper planning and communication can’t stop disasters like Katrina, they can certainly mitigate the effects.

On how MSPs should start the conversation on proper disaster planning with their customers:

“My rule is attach a dollar value to every word that you say when you’re talking to that customer. Talk to that customer about their paying problem and predicament. Help them utilise use very visual words that are emotional that make an emotional connection of potential pain, problem, and predicament. The bottom line for a business owner is loss of revenue. It’s great if you have lots of technical knowledge about how to do something. That initial sale is really an emotional decision about the why. Why do this.

To help those customers, do a vulnerability assessment to know where all of their vulnerabilities happen whether it’s a natural disaster, or someone tampering in IT, hacking whatever it happens to be.”

When asked how disaster planning is tied to businesses, based on experience from Katrina:

“The situation that we ran into for example is complete annihilation of every business in a metropolitan area. That means every bodies affected. Regardless of the size of the business every bodies affected. Imagine back then people who had money in a local bank could not use their credit cards. Because the banks were completely offline. You instantly went to poverty and no cash flow. Your card’s not going to work in an ATM if you’re evacuated to Dallas or wherever else.”

In data protection and in recovery and in looking at the disasters that could impact your clients they have to think broadly about things like electricity. We were completely without electricity how do we keep generators running when we know National Guard’s going to commandeer stuff. You have to get very creative very fast.

Failure to act can have major consequences:

“In our business you’re always trying to help people. It’s interesting that it should be self-evident that they should just take your help and follow your advice, but they don’t. It was Hurricane Katrina that actually let me start to understand why some people always do the right thing and why some people never will do the right thing.

The bottom line is one person failed to communicate effectively. That’s what brings us here today and I think in our business there will always be these people who like this Mayor was in denial that they need to do something. Was arrogant thinking we’re just going to work this out when we get into it. That doesn’t happen.”

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