The essentials of good crisis communications

Published on 01/02/2019



No organisation is perfect. You may be the best in the business, but something can still go seriously wrong.
 
Dealing with an unexpected crisis is the ultimate test because how you respond shapes what others think of you. That’s why communications must be at the heart of crisis operations from the very outset.
 
Every situation brings different challenges and so Arch Communications, a supplier on our 664 framework, have provided this checklist for best practice in all crisis communications:
 
Prepare the ground
  Have a crisis plan in place, setting out communication protocols and responsibilities. That includes having adequate resource and knowing where to get specialist support should you need it. Involve them in your decision-making. Know which channels you’ll use to get your messages across. Build and maintain good relationships with the media, key influencers, staff and your customers as part of your day-to-day work.
 
Get your story right
  Communicate quickly, but not until you’re absolutely clear what the situation is and what you need to say. Then be very consistent in your messaging, ensuring everyone in your organisation knows it too. Choose your spokesperson and words wisely, ensuring both demonstrate empathy and honesty. This may include saying sorry; a well-phrased apology is powerful in the right circumstances.
 
Stay strategic
  Seeing negative headlines or comments can be hard to take. It’s natural to be upset, but emotion leads to mistakes. Remain calm and focus on positive messages. Don’t ignore the media and be civil – they’re only doing their job.
 
Cover all bases
  Journalists can be demanding, so don’t let them get in the way of you communicating with your staff and others important to you – such as regulators, suppliers and partners.
 
Be flexible
  As the crisis progresses, things may change. Be prepared to adapt your messaging and tactics.
 
Be proactive
  Stay in control by communicating regularly, even if there’s nothing new to say. Your website and social media channels are useful tools for this.
 
Challenge inaccuracy
  It’s important to monitor what’s being said. Challenge any unfair or inaccurate media coverage as quickly as possible. On social media, speculation and false rumours can spread rapidly, but don’t get hung up on answering every post. If appropriate, post a link to a prepared statement. Don’t get involved in online arguments.
 
Remember the wider audience
  Most of your conversations are likely to be with colleagues handling the crisis and journalists. But through them you’ll reach the wider public. These are the people who really matter in assessing whether your brand has survived the crisis – or not.

To find out more about our Consultancy Services framework (664) or Arch Communications, click here.
 
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