Crisis Notes: Dos and Don’ts

Crisis notes are an elusive and complex mistress; so fickle and situation dependent. In other words, I guess, every crisis director is looking for something different. Therefore, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all way to write notes. However, here’s a standard list of the dos and don’ts for writing notes which may be helpful if you are new to the crisis scene, or if you are seasoned but are finding your notes falling a bit short. I would also recommend our full article on crisis committees for any other tips and tricks.

Do: Choose a style and stick with it

  • There are several different formats in which one can write a crisis note. A favorite of some (*cough* *cough* Casey) is that of the letter. This format is great for creating a narrative. It works exactly how you think it does, basically you address all notes to different people as your character. Ex: “Dear Wife, can you please let me know the status of our estate. Xoxo, Your Husband”. This is great for establishing crisis contacts and allies that can collect info for you. The other popular style is that of the command note (Kyla’s fave) (I have no idea what kind Carol likes, sorry). This is basically done by communicating with crisis in a direct way. Ex: “I would like to contact a bodyguard trained in hand to hand combat and hire him full-time”. While this doesn’t build quite the same level of narrative, it is very effective in getting things done quickly and communicating clearly. I like it because I am only managing myself and my actions and a director is less likely to throw you a curveball where the person you were writing a letter to suddenly dies or something like that. Not trying to convince you, both are great. However, try and choose a style and sick with it. It allows staffers to understand and anticipate your notes which leads to better repore. 

Don’t: Be Irreverent

  • I love funny crisis arcs. Like LOVE them. It’s my go to and can be super effective. They’re unexpected and harder for other delegates to block, and the staff generally likes an engaging and funny arc because it entertains them. However, stay on topic. I have seen way too many delegates go off the rails and create these ridiculous arcs which end up leading to nowhere. The farther off the trail you get, the harder it is to close out and complete your goals. Also, the more annoyed a more serious staffer will get. If you try a funny note and get a negative response, (a “no” or otherwise) don’t push it. Read the room, director, and staffers, don’t force your narrative upon a committee which will gladly block your plans and leave you without an award. Basically, know your limits.

Do: Be Specific

  • Oh, how many crisis notes have I personally shot down because people don’t include specifics. Crisis plans should be elucidated down to the minutiae. Girl, if i ever see one of y’all send a note saying “I would like to kill such and such” or “I would like to acquire troops” with no plan, I will personally scold you. Never forget, crisis is always looking for holes in your plans and will take advantage of them. Plan, plan, and plan some more. Tell them how you are getting your supplies, where they are coming from, how much money you are spending, where that money is coming from, so on and so forth. Have your ducks in a row and your who, what, when, where, how’s all in order when you send your note, especially if its a note associated with a Big Move. Be specific and get that plan executed.

Don’t: Write Novels

  • This may seem contradictory since I just told you to be as specific as possible, but let me explain. I’m asking you, as I am sure your middle school English teacher did as well, to cut out the fluff. A note may edge long if you are writing out a long, intricate plan; but if every single note you write is a page long, you’re doing it wrong. Stay concise and figure out a way to rephrase to be as accurate and as quick as possible. The more time you spend writing these long stories (that a staffer will skim in 3 seconds), the less time you are spending debating, listening, or writing directives. Your longest notes should be the ones executing major plans, and length should always correspond with importance. Also, I am not coming for you if you have big handwriting, because same here and I will make an exception for you.

Do: Have The Proper Materials

  • This is an ~aesthetic~ recommendation for paper note conferences, but it’s also practical. I suggest writing notes on colored paper or with a colored pen so you can see where your note is if its getting passed around. Also, it helps crisis staffers recognize which notes are your which helps response time. Not to mention the subtle office supplies flex which is oh so important for conference clout. I’ll also take this time to recommend a legal pad (or a MUN01 branded notebook! Check out our merch!). If you use a long sheet of paper, there will be plenty of space for crisis to respond so you can keep track of dialogue on one sheet. Furthermore, if you send in a note on a little crumpled ripped piece of paper, I guarantee your chance of that note being lost in the paper flood increases 10-fold. 

Other tips:

  • Do: Have Legible Handwriting
  • Don’t: Push The Same Crisis Idea More Than Once
  • Do: Be Well Researched
  • Don’t: Complain Excessively About Response Times
  • Do: Establish Rapport With Your Staffer
  • Don’t: Take It Personally If Your Arc Isn’t The Main Arc
  • Do: Pass Other People’s Notes Quickly
  • Don’t: EVER EVER Read Other People’s Notes
  • Do: Keep Your Notes For Future Reference In Other Sessions
  • Don’t: Leave Crumpled Notes on the Floor

As always, this is not comprehensive, but I hope it helps. Crisis notes take time to master and it is all by trial and error. What works at one conference may not work at another, but if you stay within these suggestions you will be able to adjust and succeed (I hope). Good luck and godspeed, send us your fave crisis notes (funny, effective, etc.)  for a chance to be featured in upcoming content!

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