"There's just so many channels right now for communications professionals to pay attention to," says American Clean Power Association chief communications officer and senior counselor to the CEO Rosanna Maietta. "What can seem an unhelpful comment on somebody's feed can bubble into a major full-blown crisis 30 minutes later."

To prepare for that, she says, communicators need to be laser focused—"What is the audience you're trying to reach? How do you most easily dampen a crisis and mitigate that?" That requires "being thoughtful and being always aware of new tools and technologies as they develop and figuring out what you need in your own playbook."

A communications environment in which many things are happening at one, Maietta says, makes it essential to be able to prioritize. "A lot of times we're making calculations based on what outlet is asking us for comment. Who reads this outlet in our membership? Who is going to care about this?"

In an association setting, she notes, it is key "for us to tell our own story, really take the news, while still being credible with reporters and providing facts and resources and thoughtful analysis."

Maietta also discusses strategies for helping communicators deal with the growing wave of misinformation. One key strategy: "Having a relationship with the reporters who cover your beat. That helps you with having what I like to call the early warning system. You know, something is coming and preparing everybody. It's about knowing your reporters, finding those tools to be really targeted and specific and being quick to react."

As someone who has a significant role in the C-suite, Maietta says "it's critical for communications executives to be at the table where the decisions are made, and to have a very close relationship with your policy and advocacy team because they go hand in hand. If you do your job right, you have a really close relationship with your CEO. And I think it's really incumbent upon comms folks to leverage that."

The growing role of AI is also addressed in the conversation. "I think like all new technologies, it's really important to pay attention to where this is going." However, she adds that "even if you are using it for communications functions, you're still going to need real human beings to make sure everything is accurate and factual."

She also stresses the pivotal role that advertising plays in the comms process. "Paid is the most direct approach to getting in front of your audience. So I think that has to be part of any integrated comms plan going forward."

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