How to Communicate Effectively in a Crisis
Crisis communication is by definition the most delicate field of communication: urgency, stress and confusion will all add difficulty to an already complex situation and affect the clarity of your response to your audience.
Here are a few tips to help you communicate effectively.
No matter how severe the crisis is, the public will tend to overestimate it because of a negativity bias reinforced by social networks. The digital economy is largely based on fear and the number of clicks it generates. In a crisis, it creates a vicious circle: the more people are worried, the more they seek reassurance, so they search for answers and click on articles that ultimately feed their fear. It encourages the production of articles on the subject that will be pushed even more to them by the algorithms. To them, the subject will then become ubiquitous and the crisis serious, so they will be even more afraid and will click on new articles, and so on.
One of the challenges of crisis communication is to break this circle in order to avoid panic, which could have much more dramatic consequences than the initial issue.
The 4 concerns that will be addressed to you:
1. Your diagnosis: what is the current status of the crisis?
2. Your anticipation: how do you see it evolving in the future?
3. Your measures: what do you intend to do?
4. Your empathy: are you aware of the difficulties your audience is really facing?
To respond successfully, you will need to demonstrate your ability to inspire confidence and reduce anxiety. Your mantra to achieve this will be transparency, serenity, competence and kindness.
Just do as you say! Crisis communication is largely about brand management. Take care of your brand image. Your values will be your solid anchors in less favorable times to support your message. This is the best time for you to bring your identity and values to life in the actions you will take.
Call on experts. Not every company has a dedicated communications department that can react quickly in a crisis. Managing your brand image in difficult situations is a challenge and it’s human and natural to feel overwhelmed.
Stay calm. As with any communication plan, it’s essential to identify all the players affected by the situation and who will be, for you, as many people to reassure. Take advantage of social networks and the immediacy they offer to get in direct contact with them. There is no need to waste time on a long press release that no one will read if Facebook content gains all the visibility you need, for example.
Be consistent and coherent. A well-constructed and regularly updated FAQ will prove to be an excellent tool for channelling and responding to concerns in a collective and efficient manner while avoiding you overreacting in a hurry.
You never know in advance how long a crisis will last, but it will leave its mark on your image. Take the right steps to protect your brand image.