The coronavirus has been deemed a pandemic, and the world is in crisis management mode. Lives are at stake, people are worried about employment, their elders and those who are ill. For many of us, this is our first experience with a real crisis.
For organizations, the crisis presents a number of very potent threats, such as if they will be able to keep their employees, retain customers, maintain their reputation, and even their existence. Therefore, being prepared to handle any of these risks also requires that organizations communicate. It may be just the thing that helps them navigate the crisis.
Why any business should have a plan for crisis communications
Any advice on crisis communication starts with creating a plan – in case something occurs. Let’s be frank, if you are experiencing a crisis situation at the moment due to the Coronavirus, you’re in a phase that requires instant actions and communication, it’s not a time for planning. However, we want to emphasize the importance of preparations in the process of crisis management.
A crisis may appear at any time. Being prepared and knowing what to do when it occurs may be the difference between a full-blown scandal or survival, or anything in between. The goal of crisis communication is to communicate effectively during times of crisis.
Doing that involves having a plan that allows you to maintain a steady and reliable flow of information from you to your audience, your customers, partners, and the media. Taking control of the narrative is imperative, and such a plan helps you do that. Not having one can result in uncertainty and eventually be very harmful. If you need one, you can check out Hubspot’s various templates, and create your own plan.
What is crisis communication?
Crisis communication is a set of protocols, or guidelines if you will, that determine which steps the business should take in case of an emergency. It involves having a clear hierarchy of spokespeople, guidelines for how information should flow, who receives what information, when they receive it, and by which channels it is distributed.
This also entails having the right communication technologies in place, which again allows your organization to perform these tasks quickly. The goal of crisis communication is to mitigate risk and rectify any harm done to your organization.
What have crisis communication got to do with PR?
Crisis communication is PR, and during a crisis, it is a critical function. It involves planning and producing information such as press releases. Failing to address issues may cause serious harm to both business, relations and the perception of the organization. Those who work with PR are already tasked with maintaining an organization’s reputation, so it is only natural that they are the ones that will be tasked with the same during a crisis.
What role does technology play in crisis communication?
Technology is critical when trying to get on top of a crisis. It becomes the ultimate means to an end, as it will make life so much easier. Monitoring what is being said and written about your organization is a necessity. How will you be able to respond to negative or potentially damaging comments if you’re not aware of what is being said? Also, you need to have defined channels of communicating with stakeholders and the media. The information must also be available and easy to find. A crisis must be handled with speed and precision, and technology gives you the necessary edge.
Keys to succeed with crisis communication
Risks must be assessed on the basis of updated and available information. Rash decisions may do harm, despite good intentions. Organizations need to do thorough assessments of both short-term and long-term risks. No matter how critical the situation is, they will need to communicate with customers, investors, partners, and their audience.
Availability and transparency
Being available and as transparent as you can is a good thing. Availability is about letting the media know where they can get a hold of you, and allowing them to do just that. The same goes for partners and other stakeholders. We know you’re not able to share everything, as much may be business-critical right now, but it is important that people know what you are doing, and how you are handling things. Be calm, open and forthcoming in any questions you may receive.
Flexibility and speed
During times of crisis, any business must be able to act quickly and have an agile organization, so that they may act upon new information and changes to the rules that govern their industry. Being able to communicate changes and news quickly is therefore very important. People seek information, and it is the business itself that is best able to provide that information. Control your own narrative, and don’t let others tell your story.
Show your true colors – take responsibility and live by your values
Usually, we consider a crisis to be something negative, and it often is. However, it also opens up possibilities to do new things. By taking responsibility as an organization, you may show the positive effect you have on society. Show us how you are taking that responsibility, even though you don’t have to. Be true to the values that guide your business, and the values you base your decisions on. Doing this may be just what takes you through the crisis, and you may be even stronger once it’s all over.
Reconsider your marketing and communication activities
Is this the right time to proceed with your planned seminar, conference or product launch? Crisis has a tendency to change set plans. Crisis also often opens up for new possibilities. This is the time to be creative. Could any of your actions have a positive impact on the situation? Perhaps you have useful data, statistics or other information that might help others. Helpful actions could result in good PR!