Crisis Communications

The Chinese use two symbols to represent the word crisis – one symbol means threat, but the other symbolises opportunity. It’s important to remember that in the world of communications a crisis is always an opportunity.

How can a crisis be an opportunity?

In general terms the public are very understanding when a crisis happens and can be very ready to forgive. What they won’t forgive though is how you communicate. Although many of the circumstances leading to a crisis may not have been in your control, how you communicate with the public very definitely is – so get that part wrong at your peril!

But get the communication right and you have every chance of coming out of the crisis with your reputation enhanced.

How do you get it right?

Preparation is everything. A crisis will move incredibly quickly and if you don’t take control of the communications, someone else will. You need to establish your organisation as the source of truth to avoid speculation running wild. And the only way to do that is to communicate.

That means you need a plan. You need to be sure that everyone in your organisation knows who is authorised to speak on behalf of the company and you need to be sure your spokespeople are ready and know what to say.

What should you communicate and when?

Speed and accuracy are the two key factors in getting crisis communications right. You must make a public statement as quickly as possible to establish your credibility. But at the same time your credibility will be lost instantly if you are found to have given out incorrect information. It’s a delicate balance but one that is important to navigate. Very short statements in the initial stages are perfectly acceptable. It is also completely fine to say that you don’t have all the answers. Nobody expects you to know everything immediately, in fact they wouldn’t believe you if you said you did!

You need a plan!

It is crucial to have a crisis comms team established before any crisis happens. You also need to have a crisis comms plan and you need to practice it. When you are in the middle of the chaos that comes with a crisis, you will be very grateful you have a crisis comms team that knows what they are doing!

Preparation is the key to success

Which stakeholders do you need to talk to and what do you need to tell them? Do you have their phone numbers or email addresses handy? What happens if they hear the news on social media before they hear it from you?

These are all questions that you need to consider carefully – but not when you are in the middle of a crisis.

When things are calm is the time to look at what crises could you be faced with and prepare plans to handle them. Hopefully you won’t ever need to use them – but you will be incredibly grateful you had them if you ever do.

We’ve prepared crisis communications plans for some of the biggest names around, including airlines, online retailers and publicly listed companies. Talk to us about how we could help you turn a crisis into a reputation enhancing opportunity.

Schedule a call to discuss how we could help you develop a Crisis Communications Plan