Communication is Key

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Crisis communication: It’s something that none of us want to think about but it is necessary.

If there’s one thing we in the business world have learned in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, it’s the importance of communication. Although we already had a pretty good lock on this, we learned how to take it up a notch (or few) when “crisis” occurred. 

As an intern during my first ever “PR gig,” it’s been quite a time to be alive. (Don’t worry I’ve got a whole blog post planned on how this has been an experience for me.) But a few things I will say have become an area of focus for me: preparation and communication.

Keeping your clients and customers, employees, and the public informed is crucial to remaining successful during times like this. If you have the mindset of “it can’t happen to me,” guess what? You’re wrong and it will

“The days of playing ostrich – burying your head in the sand and hoping the problem goes away – are gone.” Jonathon Bernstein, crisis management professional. 

 

A few tips: 

Prepare. Anticipating what may come is always the best first step. While it may be impossible to know what will happen and when it is even more of a reason to develop a general plan. When and if disaster does strike, at least you will be ahead of the game. 

Communicate. People want to know what’s going on, how you’re handling it, and what that means for them. You may not even know yet yourself, but the sooner you face the music, the better it will be. Ignoring your situation or putting it off will surely dig you deeper into a whole. Be honest. Be clear. And be upfront. Admit that it has/will change some things and you are doing your best to deal with it.

Over Communicating does not exist during a crisis. Share often and share as much as you know. People want to know that they are not alone and need to stay informed. More than likely, they won’t care if your video isn’t the best quality – they care that you took the time out of your day to make something addressing the situation and letting them know that you are there for them. This is what people will remember you for. 

Values. What better time to reinforce those values than now? (Hince our current theme for this month.) If you were thinking this was a way to throw everything out of the window and start running – you’re looking at it all wrong. Stand up and show the public eye (who is already watching even closer than before) what you stand for. If your values are in the right place, then it shouldn’t be hard to tie them to what you stand for

Compassion. Telling someone something that is truly earth-shattering is one thing, but having no regard for how it may impact them? That is catastrophic. Acknowledge the situation and the severity of it. Of course, you don’t want to cause panic but you also don’t want to sweep it under the rug. Offer your sincerity for the situation at hand and offer your support to them from your company. Maybe you can volunteer or offer fundraising support? Maybe you can donate equipment or supplies during this time? Even offering discounts or sales during this time can show that you care.  

Relevance. Make your changes – then communicate AGAIN. The last thing you want to do is have one of your pre-scheduled social media posts go out about how great the economy doing in the midst of a crisis. Make sure you keep an eye on your content and change it to fit the situation. There’s simply no way of getting around this one. You WILL need to create more content and probably scratch or rearrange a lot of it as well. 

 

Ment Cowork

We are no different from this world of crisis communication. For us, it meant restructuring our social media and blog content and reaching out to our members to keep them updated as we went. We contacted our community partners to develop plans moving forward and developed alternative ways to offer our services and perks to our members. 

Developing additional communication formats including an Instagram group and Slack channel, as well as weekly emailed newsletters for our members and weekly zoom meetings for staff was a transition but it is paying off. Lastly, we developed a campaign and Facebook group to encourage community support during this time. The possibilities are endless. It’s all about taking a route of action that best suits you. 

 

Getting Specific

I know – it’s a lot to take in. If you’re in a hurry, we’ve compiled a list to keep it short and sweet. Here are some of the best ways to follow crisis communications:

-Develop a crisis management plan

-Monitor social platforms and trends.

-Enact a crisis communications team and/or spokesperson.

-Communicate with staff members – make sure they understand the plan and are on the same page.

-Address the public (speeches, conferences, social media, etc.) 

-Develop holding statements. 

-Restructure content as needed.

-Reinforce or lockdown company values during this time.

-Offer compassion and understanding.

-Communicate, communicate, communicate. 

 

During a crisis, there are two types of people: the ones who go silent and the ones who get louder. 

Let’s be honest here – when this pandemic is over, are you going to the businesses that stayed silent or the ones that fought hard and loud to come out of it? My bet is on the ones who fought. They wanted it bad and they knew how to handle the situation…or maybe they didn’t, BUT they learned and they fought – and that’s what we all want to see. They were the ones making sure their products were still provided to you. And that makes all the difference in my book.

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