As we wrap up this series on crisis communications in uncertain times, a quote by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger comes to mind: ”There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.”
Few of us have set aside time on our schedule for the unexpected. Yet, with crises occurring with increasing frequency, escalating quickly and requiring quick action, hoping that it won’t happen and not being prepared for when it does will leave you and your organization scrambling to protect your brand.
In the first three parts of this series, we covered building a crisis plan, what to do when a crisis hits and the role of social media in crisis communications. In this final installment, we share the following tips to not only help your organization survive but to come out stronger.
When a crisis hits your organization, your clients, customers, employees, board of directors, vendors, the general public and others (directly or indirectly impacted) are all looking to you for information, assurances and a clear plan of action. Today, remaining silent is considered as bad as saying, “No comment.”
Communicate your challenges, plans and progress from the onset and consistently throughout the crisis. This will reassure your audience that they are important to you and will help ensure that they will stand with you throughout this and any future crises. And when misinformation is presented, press for the truth. Stand up for your organization. Take responsibility and shape the perception instead of waiting for others to do it for you.
Take the long view
What will your interested parties think of your brand once the crisis has passed? This question should guide all your communications. Keep your core values top of mind throughout the crisis to ensure all communications—internal and external—are consistent and aligned with your interested parties’ expectations.
Also, consider the following as you draft each communication:
Does this communication reassure our clients?
Are we providing guidance during this time of instability?
Are we able to continue our services with minimal disruptions?
Are we taking care of our employees?
Never let a good crisis go to waste
While we don’t see a crisis as a good thing, it does present an opportunity. A “new normal” always emerges with the potential for positive changes, i.e., improved processes, greater security, etc. An organization that is well prepared, takes responsibility, communicates consistently and transparently, provides a plan of action and delivers will build and strengthen relationships with its audience and demonstrate that the organization is not only able to weather a crisis with resiliency and agility but come out better than before. Ultimately, a crisis will pass. It’s how you recover that will resonate into the future.
Additional suggestions include:
Monitor and report on coverage across online, print, broadcast, podcasts and social media.
Provide regular media coverage updates to your leadership.
Keep a journal to document your work. This is not only cathartic but, especially when the situation is constantly changing, it also helps boost your memory. It will also provide an opportunity to note your achievements during the crisis and help shape your future crisis responses.
If a crisis hits tomorrow, is your organization ready? AOE is ready to work with you to build the optimal crisis communications plan—no matter what the crisis. For more information, reach out to us today and be sure to visit AOE’s Crisis Communications page.