Crisis planning has become a necessity in our digital world, where even small incidents can go viral, shattering company reputations virtually overnight. But a crisis plan is incomplete without a communications component. When a company is in the middle of a crisis, communication often takes a back seat to action, and that can do as much – or more – damage as the crisis itself.
We have written previously on crisis communications planning. Here are three essentials for communicating during a crisis:
- Don’t delay in communicating the problem. It’s the response – or more likely, the lack of response – to a crisis that causes the situation to escalate into an even bigger problem. Any delay in responding, or even a tepid response, can add fuel to the fire.
- Show concern for those affected. It’s important to show concern for those affected – whether they are employees, customers, or the community. To quote former President Theodore Roosevelt, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
- Be honest about the extent of the crisis. When a crisis occurs, you may not have all the facts at your disposal right away. However, depending on who is affected, you will have to make some kind of initial statement and updates as new information is available. What’s most important is to be honest about the extent of any damage and what steps you are taking to address the crisis.
How you communicate during a crisis should be an integral part of your crisis planning – especially if your organization is high profile, operating or moving dangerous materials, or providing products or services directly to consumers.
Communicating well can make damage control much easier.
Posted by Margot Dimond.