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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Merry

Crisis communication examples

What are the different types of crises?

Examples of a crisis include natural disasters/weather, personnel issues, injuries and breeches. Different types of crises could be …


  • Fire

  • Explosion

  • Chemical spill or release

  • Jobsite accident

  • Groundwater contamination

  • Crisis at adjacent facility

  • Natural disaster

  • Product or service failure

  • Terrorism

  • Personnel-related incident

  • Layoffs

  • Office closing

  • Transportation accident

  • News event related to employee

  • And the crisis we are now all too familiar with … a pandemic

As you can probably gather, many of these crises are out of your control. Unavoidable. The causes of crises aren’t always the fault of the organization (whew, right?) So what can you do? Introduce an organized crisis management team that is prepared with a crisis communication plan.


What are examples of crisis communication?

Crisis communication examples can range from addressing a disgruntled employee complaint or corporate layoffs. Types of crisis communication can come in the form of a social media statement, an email/eblast, a statement on your website, a statement read at a press conference, an employee handbook … basically any way you can communicate information to your various audiences. The appropriate method of communication will depend on the situation at hand, the desired outcome, expectations for those involved as well as a host of other factors.


Of course, since there are good and bad ways to handle a crisis, there are good and bad crisis communication examples out there. Some of the most common crisis communication mistakes include oversharing, making unrealistic promises or pointing fingers when releasing statements. You can better avoid these mistakes by thinking through potential crises and having a crisis communication plan in place that you can rely on if needed.

Let’s examine a few examples of crisis situations from AOE clients … and how AOE’s crisis communication experts were able to formulate crisis communication plans that helped diffuse the situations!


An on-the-job injury

An employee was hurt at work and unfortunately, the incident was fatal. There was a need to not only explain what happened to various groups associated with the organization but to express compassion (for the employee’s family, friends and coworkers) and provide what safety measures would be put in place going forward to prevent another tragedy. With AOE’s help, the company was able to formulate several statements for their different audiences, using factual but empathetic and sensitive language. We were also able to help them add their updated safety regulation language to the appropriate channels to ensure that employees were educated on the changes.


Averting a crisis

Many clients are already in-tune with their audience and can anticipate when there may be pushback to an announcement. With that comes a unique opportunity to prepare and educate your audience – and we can help. With a proposed construction project approaching, our client knew they would need help convincing a reluctant audience that this new structure was the right move for the city. We partnered with them to create a strategy to communicate with the public, focusing on community engagement and transparency from the beginning. Releasing information about the structure, construction plans, timelines, traffic changes, etc. helped the audience get informed … and on board!


Employee misconduct online

Employees represent your organization. Asking your employees to adjust their behavior outside of work can be a sticky situation to navigate, but sometimes necessary. When our client noticed recurring issues with what their employees were posting on social media while off-the-clock, we worked with them to establish new guidelines and social media policies, and distribute the communication to their employees.


Harassment allegations

Safety and respect are priorities at AOE, and we are proud to say that our clients are on the same page. We partnered with an association to develop language for additions to their Code of Conduct, addressing their company’s sexual harassment policy to include updates specifically describing expectations around special events like conferences. Improved language tailored to the association’s concerns showed their dedication to the seriousness of the issue.


Why is crisis communication important?

The importance of a crisis communication plan lies in the inevitability of a crisis occurring. A crisis communication plan is necessary because realistically, it’s not a matter of if your organization will experience a crisis, but when. We are living in a time of uncertainty with crises seeming to occur almost daily. From a pandemic and extreme weather occurrences to cyberattacks and more, the inevitability that a crisis will affect your organization is more likely than ever before. In addition, today’s crises are very different than those even a few years ago. They escalate faster, likely have a broader impact and elicit more extreme reactions and demands for real and immediate action. The purpose of a crisis communication plan is to be prepared for any possible scenario so that when it occurs, your organization is ready. A crisis communication plan will provide the guidelines for dealing with an emergency, including the necessary steps to take in the days, weeks, months and even years following the event.


Now, more than ever, the implications of being unprepared for a crisis can have a devastating effect on your organization. It’s never been more important to have a good crisis communications plan in place. If you don’t already have one, now is the time to get started. Your first task is to evaluate your organization’s readiness. How prepared are you if a crisis hits your organization tomorrow? Do you have an employee notification system in place? Who will speak for your organization in media interviews during the crisis? If these questions have your head spinning, contact us to design a plan together. In the meantime, here are a few crisis communication tips for both internal and external communication during a crisis.


Crisis Communication Best Practices:

1) Have a consistent spokesperson(s). Many have found it is helpful to have one person, such as the HR director, handle operational updates, while the president is the author of the more compassionate, human element types of communication.

2) Don’t change your core values, culture or brand at this time. Stick to your key messages. Many organizations have organized their communications under consistent headings or themes, which makes it easy for everyone to locate the information and helps reinforce the key messages.3) Communicate early and often. Tell your audience when and how you will communicate, and then follow through. Don’t wait to respond until you have all the answers. Acknowledge what you know as well as what you are working on. Transparency is key.


AOE has deep expertise in developing crisis plans and will work with you to help build optimal communications for your employees, clients, customers and other interested parties—no matter what the crisis. For more information, reach out to us today and be sure to visit AOE’s Crisis Communications Microsite.

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