Crisis communications: striking the right balance

Timely but not rushed, concerned but calm, succinct yet detailed. When it comes to crisis communications, all external messages must strike a delicate balance. Getting it right will safeguard the relationship between your organisation and your clients. In uncertain times, an effective communications strategy is an opportunity to build long term trust in your brand.

Be proactive, not reactive

When a crisis hits your business, or your client’s business, the tide of information and questions from customers, the media or stakeholders, can seem overwhelming. Silence is simply not an option. In the absence of meaningful information, gossip and rumour quickly fill the void. News shared amongst employees or customers will soon lose accuracy and end up published in public forums. Proactive messaging directly from your or your client’s company mitigates this risk. Send transparent and timely information and be honest about any knowledge gaps. Let your stakeholders and customers know when they can expect a further update.

Detail your management plan

List the active steps your organisation is undertaking to manage the situation. Explain any contingency plans that may be enacted as the situation evolves. If the crisis is the result of an error made by a team or individual in your organisation, acknowledge responsibility, include an apology and explain the steps towards rectification. Avoid any slang or humour that could be potentially misinterpreted.

Unify messages across all channels

It’s important to have a centralised communication team to align all messages. In the normal course of business, you may have one team dedicated to social media posts, another responsible for the website and eDMs, while an external PR firm handles media coverage. Crisis communications requires all messages to filter through one team or individual to ensure unity. In the words of veteran Australian journalist Ita Buttrose, avoid confusion by “singing from the same song sheet.”

Display compassion

Even if your business is not directly affected by the crisis at hand, it’s important to show care and concern for the gravity of the situation. If the epicentre of the crisis is in another country, could your organisation provide financial or practical assistance at a local level? However you choose to assist, communicate your efforts to show your concern goes beyond economics.

Think creatively

If the crisis is impeding your ability to operate your business as usual, is there another way you can meet your client’s needs? When face to face interaction is not an option, Zoom or Skype can be used for client consultations. Retail outlets can use social media to showcase collections and direct shoppers to online options. Webinars and online forums can replace live presentations. Use technology to your advantage wherever possible.

Content Empire can create and execute a professional communications strategy for your organisation. Get in touch today.

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