Crises come in differing sizes and impact business and the public in varying ways. While no two are alike, certain keys are vital to communicate during a crisis. Our top five:
Peacetime Planning Can Equal Crisis Survival
A crisis is, at its core, uncomfortable. Certainly, it’s uncomfortable to live through and frequently uncomfortable to watch or even discuss. These realities make it critical for companies to make strategic crisis decisions – those that can be made anyway – during “peacetime,” or outside of the throes of a crisis. Build a written crisis plan that includes media and message training for executive leadership. This approach will assure that important decisions are made for strategic reasons and not emotional ones.
When a crisis plays out publicly – which is nearly all the time – news and social media channels are not always about finding the truth as much as assigning blame. Take responsibility for that which your organization is responsible and move on to solving the problem. The quicker this happens; the faster efforts begin building a foundation for an organization to emerge from a crisis.
When a crisis occurs, someone usually is harmed in some way. Showing empathy for those experiencing human consequences due to a crisis is the act of an ethical organization run by ethical people. This also helps repair cracks the crisis may have caused in the foundation of an organization’s reputation and build a strategic platform from which a company can emerge from a crisis stronger than ever.
Say it First and Repeat
Staying ahead of the information curve, both internally and via social channels and the news media is critical. Sharing news – even bad news – before the public is aware is vital to controlling the message and assuring that the public and specific stakeholder audiences receive accurate information in the correct context. Be careful. Execution is key here. The way information is shared during a crisis will determine whether we’re moving the crisis closer to a conclusion or giving it more life.
Leverage the Spotlight
The attention organizations receive during a crisis is typically higher than during peacetime. It is critical to use the time in the spotlight to deliver key messages that will define the company as it emerges from a crisis. This activity must be executed in a sensitive and strategically sound manner to be effective. Without delivering carefully-crafted messages during a crisis, an organization runs the risk of allowing the crisis to define it, possibly permanently.
For perspectives on how to manage your organizations’ strategic communications challenges, contact Chuck Sanger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-352-2077.