7 Steps You Should Take to Communicate in a Crisis

September 27, 2019

Whether you want to believe it or not, every organisation is vulnerable to crises and the first rule of crisis management is to communicate. The first few hours after the incident occurs are absolutely critical and they set the tone for the duration of the crisis.

Poor internal and external communication following a crisis can cause even more problems – your organisation can be perceived as inept and confused stakeholders can become increasingly angry and disappointed. 

So, what steps can you take to communicate effectively in a crisis situation?

1. Make sure you plan ahead

Despite the possible consequences of poor communication, many crisis management plans fail to address the many communication issues that relate to a crisis response.  

When creating your crisis management plan, you need to go through all the potential crises that can occur. It’s classic Murphy’s Law; “What can go wrong, will go wrong.” Then when a crisis happens, what will you do and say?

Crisis management communications should not just be reactionary. It should also include putting preventative measures in place and helping your organisation prepare for any eventuality.

2. Identify your crisis communication team

A big part of any plan is identifying the people who will action it. Find people in your company who can serve as your crisis communications team. The size of the team depends on the needs and size of your business but usually, the CEO or Managing Director will lead the team with your top public relations executive and any legal counsel taking important positions too.

Your crisis communications team will set the communications process for your business and create clear processes that can be communicated to the wider team so everyone is aware of their roles.

3. Train your chosen spokespeople

Try to avoid getting caught out when a staff member, who doesn’t know the whole story, gives a quote to the media or posts on their social media. To make sure that the right information is communicated in the right way, only authorised spokespeople should speak for your company in the event of a crisis. 

Crisis management media training should be delivered to those who would be responsible for giving public statements and interviews to make sure they are fully prepared and can perform when the time comes.

4. Be as open as possible with your messaging

In today’s world, misinformation is rife and rumours can spread across social media so easily. When you come across any misinformation or untruths make sure you correct that information as soon as possible. 

If you just stay silent, it could cause more harm than good with misinformation being shared freely and allowing others to tell your story for you.

So in terms of messaging, discuss what you know, when you became aware of it, explain who is involved and what is being done to fix the situation. 

5. Develop a range of holding statements

Every crisis is unique so it’s impossible to come up with fully prepared statements ahead of time. However, you can create holding statements that can be used in the immediate aftermath of a crisis. These holding statements can be developed in advance and be based on the many scenarios you identified in step 1. 

This can help you respond to a crisis much more quickly, allowing you to get ahead and get your message out there in a timely fashion.

6. Establish notification and monitoring systems

You need to know what’s being said in the media about your company so you can correct any misinformation or respond to any negativity before it turns into a bigger crisis.

Your employees, customers and other stakeholders could give quotes to the media or even just share their thoughts and opinions about your company on their personal social media profiles. You need to monitor these comments and feedback and respond appropriately.

7. Post-crisis analysis

The perfect time to review and analyse your crisis communications plan is right after the crisis is over. Review what happened and identify what was done well, what could be done better next time, and how you can improve different aspects of your crisis management communications plan.

Once the crisis is under control, take a look at the impact the incident has had on your employees, your brand, and your reputation. If these were negatively impacted, you need to take steps to address any weaknesses in your plan in preparation for another crisis.

If your company is after more in-depth crisis management training, take a look at our range of crsis management training courses and get in touch with our team for more information or to book a place.


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