Crisis: What to Say, How to Say it, When to Say it

Have you or your business ever faced a crisis? Did you have an effective strategy in place?

The way you respond can either give you a much-needed image boost or significantly damage your brand. But what is the best strategy to avoid this? Nowadays it is easy for any news to go viral and therefore, you need to be effective and ready to respond, using all available platforms.

Developing a positive communication strategy is one of the most effective steps a business can take to defend, protect and enhance their reputation during a crisis before it’s even happened. By communicating clearly and effectively, organisations can direct every situation, and as a result, benefit from a positive response when a ‘bump-in-the-road’ does strike.

Ineffective communications however, brings the opposite result. Your team, service users and stakeholders would feel frustrated and panic; resulting in a decline in morality. Therefore, you need to be fully prepared and remain positive in the face of adversity.

HubSpot defines a crisis communication plan as a ‘set of guidelines used to prepare a business for an emergency or unexpected event. These plans include steps to take when a crisis first emerges, how to communicate with the public, and how to prevent the issue from occurring’.

Why do we need it? A crisis communication plan provides guidance and steps to support teams and clients. You can recognise how different crises form and manifest and identify the key communications channels and stakeholders.

What should it include:

  • Detailed plan. The plan should outline and explain how your organisation will communicate the crisis and handle the crisis
  • Crisis communication team
  • Key messages
  • Internal communications procedures
  • Contacts and media list
  • Appendices

You need to be consistent and prepared for the unexpected because when a crisis happens, you need to communicate it immediately; customers need to know how the impact such as local government officials will need to know what is happening within their community.

This is not just for written communications, but verbal communications as well.

The strategies are:

  • Focus on the issue, not the person
  • Be genuine rather than manipulative
  • Empathise rather than remain detached
  • Be flexible towards others
  • Value yourself and your own experiences
  • Use affirming responses

Remember, prepare for the most common crisis your organisation may face and overcome complications and challenges by applying a crisis communication plan.

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