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Dan O’Keeffe, Founder & CEO
November 09 2020

Communicating Through a Crisis

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. The coronavirus may be the most global and universal crisis business leaders have had to face in their careers, but it is far from the only one. Cyber attacks, the #MeToo movement, and account fraud scandals have forced many businesses – both big and small into crisis management mode.

In times like these you can see the that there are companies that are ready to communicate effectively during a crisis, and those that aren’t.

A crisis doesn’t have to be cataclysmic, like communicating with employees and customers during a once-in-a-generation pandemic. Maybe it’s a workplace accident that highlights your safety protocols. Or a failure to deliver hundreds of products on time to various customers.

Managing Communications in a Crisis

Managing a company through a crisis is about relaying essential information to the right people, efficiently and effectively.

A crisis really multiplies when it catches the attention of the media. Whether that media is social, traditional or otherwise, it can put your problems under an unwanted spotlight.

Planning is Key

The point is to be ready, and to have a plan. Think about the ways in which your company might be susceptible to an unfortunate event. Then map out what might happen, what the ramifications might be and what the public might see or hear. In today’s fast-moving news world, you can expect that news of your crisis will spread quickly so you want to be in control of the message.

Three Basic Rules

The basic rules for crisis communications are simple:

  • Tell the truth.
  • Stay focused on those affected by the crisis.
  • Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know.

Think about the people who need to know what’s happening. People in your company deserve to know first.

Even if your company has managed to avoid the spotlight, you’ll want to be ready for a sudden increase in attention.

In all of these conversations, your goal is to be consistent. Work with one set of facts and statements and return to them often.

Navigating To the End

The goal is to offer as much information as you can, to do it quickly, and to the right audiences. This simplified plan helps you with the other job: solving the problem that created the crisis in the first place.

Finally, know when you need some expert help. When you’re faced with a communications challenge, contact us.

© 2020 O’Keeffe. All Rights Reserved.