No one can predict when a crisis will strike. However, you can certainly be prepared for various threats and situations by already having a designated team and a framework for action…just in case.
When crisis does strike, the next 24 hours are the most critical. Within this time period, you must determine with as much certainty the facts and circumstances of what happened. You must decide upon a simple and clear messaging strategy with typically no more than three key messages. You must identify all key stakeholders to communicate to and determine the most effect method to get the word out, as well as the frequency of updates. The rule of thumb is you can’t over communicate but you can under communicate.
Some situations are better suited for controlled crisis communications, such as press releases, issued statements to the media, email communications to key stakeholders or live meetings. Other platforms provide very little control but are important engagement tools and require monitoring and nimble reaction, such as social media, press inquiries, live TV interviews, shareholder inquiries or customer service.
While each crisis communications medium has its unique advantages and subtle nuances, what needs to be consistent throughout is a consistent voice , the facts as best you know them and plan of action to address the crisis, and a message of action and sympathy that speaks to all stakeholders.
Moreover, the messenger of your crisis communications —or what’s commonly referred to as the spokesperson — needs to be credible and knowledgeable of the facts, circumstances and plan of action. The public quickly tunes out someone who is “telling and selling” versus someone who is forthright, factual and transparent.
And while each crisis does present risks and uncertainties that can negatively impact your brand or reputation, it’s how you manage through the crisis with integrity that counts the most. Each touch point with the audience is an opportunity to shape the moment and safeguard your reputation’s credibility.