Don’t Panic: How to Communicate Effectively During a Crisis
In today’s unpredictable world, mastering the art of crisis communication is a must-have skill for any public relations professional. But what to start with?
When dealing with any kind of issue, bear in mind that communications as a key tool of any crisis management. It is important to create clear and convincing messages and ensure that they reach the right audience on time.
Sometimes we may not be able to prevent the crisis from happening in the first place. But we can control how we respond to it, and how we communicate through it to our audiences. And the most effective way here is to create a right crisis communications message that can be shared with your company’s stakeholders. In this article we will share some tips on how to do it.
Is the crisis on my lane?
However, before we dive into tips of crafting a perfect response to the crisis situation, it is important to ensure:
- If you are responsible for the crisis;
- If you are leading the crowd’s communication response here;
- Or if you are supporting someone else who’s leading it.
And remember: never begin responding to someone else’s crisis and taking responsibility for something that’s not yours to own.
Essential Elements of a Crisis Communications Message
When managing a crisis, it is crucial to be the first to provide information. Legally approved holding statements are the primary format for crisis communications and should be the first message to send out. It needs to acknowledge and take accountability for something that has happened, as well as it must establish the company as a source for trusted and credible information.
- Acknowledge, take accountability and apologise
A crisis can sometimes arise due to a lack of evidence and misunderstandings. Confusing slogans, creative campaigns, and even ambiguous words can be negatively perceived. Therefore, when things go wrong, take accountability and apologise.
2. Communicate your response actions
Even in the early stages of a crisis, it’s important to outline what your organisation is doing to deal with it. This could be as simple as stating that you’ve launched an investigation, reviewing procedures or policies, or working with the relevant authorities. This is how you begin protecting your brand and reputation.
3. Show honest empathy
The key is to put yourself in the shoes of the audience. You should share and write what they need to know and hear.
4. Write clear messages
People are confused during the crisis; their lives are in chaos, and it is important not to confuse the issue anymore by giving them unclear directions.
5. Be open and transparent
Always be transparent about the situation and provide accurate information about what’s happening. This is going to help build trust and credibility with the audience.
6. Tell the truth
If something wrong has been done, you know what you need to do to make it right. Delaying and denying it is not helpful to the situation at all.
7. Share actionable info
Provide clear instructions for the next steps, including links to additional resources, such as official platforms, and remind people to stay informed.
This post included highlights from the Public Relations Today webinar.