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How to Handle Communications During Crisis?

by Jody Ordioni

How to Handle Communications During Crisis?

Crises can occur internally or externally, however, both have the potential to negatively influence the reputation of a company. While there are sufficient plans in place to handle internal crises, companies usually struggle when it comes to outside disturbances, such as the COVID pandemic. Unpredictable crises can be handled with efficient communication.

Appoint a Decision Maker

During a crisis, clarity in communication can impact future outcomes heavily. This necessitates a decision-maker who can be the source disseminating information to the wider set of employees. A PR person, or even a marketing manager, is your best bet as this aligns with their area of expertise. Employees should feel lost due to the company issuing contradictory statements. Therefore, an acknowledged leader in the space can allow for faster and more efficient communication.

Getting the Correct Input

Once the decision-maker has been appointed, it is imperative to assist him or her with the correct information. Your team should focus on relaying relevant information to the leader. Team members, who are most likely to be impacted by the crisis, should be central in this task. A majority of crises can be prevented if the correct voice is allowed a platform to air their concerns. The COVID pandemic has highlighted that communication channels are central to imparting useful information. Ensure that the information being broadcasted is correct as well.

Early Communication with the Team

In a situation of a crisis, it always pays off to have everyone in the loop. Communication with the public is important but so is communicating with the employees. In bigger corporations, it is beneficial that the employees know whether to make any information public or not. While in smaller startups, it is safer to assume that everyone knows what's going on. Still, to avoid being caught unawares, it would be better to let all the employees know who the decision-maker is and how to reach out to them.

Plan of Action with Defined Goals

When in the middle of a crisis, things will likely be fast paced, with stakeholders asking for accountability. In such a moment, a communication plan that details a plan of action will definitely come in handy. While every crisis will require a unique solution, it is helpful to have a basic plan to set the ball rolling. Setting goals that pertain to the outcome while also keeping the audience informed can be achieved with the help of a plan.

Communicate Through Actions as Well

Dishonest communication can deepen the crisis by damaging the reputation of the company. Simply putting out messages that are not followed by any meaningful action reflects that the commitment of the company is false. Empty promises are the last thing that any company could want when faced with a crisis. This is why the decision-maker model comes in handy since the person-in-charge can rationalize the promises being made and ensure that the proper course of action is taken. The several layers of permissions that have to be acquired can be bypassed.

Don't Lose Sight of Your Values

It might be tempting to solve the crisis internally first, before putting out any information in the public sphere. However, this leaves the stakeholders in a lurch and the customers hanging. These anxieties are not beneficial for the company's future as it may create a lack of trust. In crisis mode, sticking to your core values- whatever they may be- becomes a priority. If your values can not hold up when the going gets tough, it would reflect poorly on your company and employees.

Take Stock Once Crisis is Averted

After the crisis is dealt with, you might wish to avoid talking about it and analyze how to prevent it from happening again. Still, it is fundamental to review your crisis plan and whether it worked in your favor or not. Each crisis provides an opportunity to evolve and expand.

The Bottom Line

Difficult times cannot be avoided but having an action plan in place can still keep you afloat. It will ensure that your employees and customers retain their faith in the brand. A clear plan will empower you to cruise through any potential crisis that might occur.

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