External communications are an important item to consider in a communications plan. They include marketing, outreach and crisis communications strategies. It is important to note that all boards of directors have three duties: duty of care, duty of loyalty and duty of obedience. Under the duty of obedience, all messages to the outside world regarding the board and organizational issues come from the Board Chairperson only – unless otherwise decided. Duty of obedience also means that all board members speak with one voice, keeping the elements of discussions confidential while all agreeing to the consensus decision that has been made and voted on. You can read more about the three board duties here.
When there is a need for crisis communications, the board and marketing/outreach committee work together on the necessary steps needed to address the emergent issue. These steps should be laid out in clear talking points and messaging for all board members, staff and organizational leaders to use. The Board Chair will be the main conduit of information to the press.
Often, a board meeting is called to discuss the crisis issue. It is from this meeting tasks, actions and talking points are created.
The Marketing & Outreach Committee is main conduit of information to the outside world. Some activities and messages will be solely committee generated and the distribution will be decided within the committee. For larger messages either the entire board and/or executive committee will be consulted. Examples of this are press releases, event announcements, etc.