The power of social media has grown manifold over the past few years, thanks to technological advancements. Not only did it increase access to information all over the world, it also improved transparency. While this may have been a boon for many, it became a bane for those who needed to manage PR disasters. Take the 2003 crisis faced by Cadbury—the British multinational confectionery. Complaints were registered against the brand after a couple of chocolate bars were found to be infested with worms. This immediately led to social media outrage and Cadbury faced the fire from all sides.
There are several other leading brands that have faced PR nightmares in the past and continue to do so. The best way to deal with a situational crisis is to come forward and communicate the latest information. Having a crisis communication plan is the first step in protecting the brand and regaining consumer trust.
What Does It Mean To Have A Crisis Communication Plan?
Organizations need to be prepared for a wide range of potential crises, especially the unanticipated ones. A situational crisis can range from cyber-attacks and product recalls to PR incidents and reputation disasters. Preparing ahead of time and having relevant information ready can help organizations quickly address and rectify the situation, protect their consumers, employees and assets as well as ensure business continuity.
Crisis communication is the system of having technologies, protocols and processes in place that allows an organization to successfully communicate during a threat to its reputation or the overall business. The primary goal of crisis communication strategies is to ensure seamless communication within a firm. Typically, it’s the leadership and internal communications or marketing teams that come together to create a crisis communication plan and execute the finer strategies.
Here are some of the most common types of situational crisis that require effective crisis communication management:
- Financial crises such as bankruptcy or closing of stores
- Personnel crises such as layoffs or employee furloughs
- Organizational crises such as wrongdoing or misconduct
- Technological crises such as functionality loss
Your crisis communication plan will depend on the situation you’re dealing with.
Understanding The Importance Of Crisis Communication
Crisis communication is necessary because a situational crisis can come out of nowhere. Such crises can have a negative impact on the brand image and can even give way to additional threats and unwanted challenges. The crisis communication management team has the dual responsibility of protecting brand identity as well as maintaining an organization’s standing within the industry.
Here are some crisis communication skills every management team needs to master:
- Coordinating internal and external communication by releasing relevant information to the press, employees and other stakeholders involved. It’s good to be informed by the organization first.
- It’s not advisable to withhold information as it affects brand credibility. The crisis communication team should reveal all things necessary right at the beginning. Transparency is a good strategy.
- It’s essential to see the audience’s point of view and be empathetic during a crisis. Delivering the message in an appropriate and sensitive way can minimize the negativity that comes with a crisis. Using humble and personal language to acknowledge a situation is a good approach.
Pillars Of Successful Crisis Communication
If you want to put your crisis communication strategies into action, here are some ways to do it well:
1. Keeping It Simple
Simplicity and clarity are the most effective strategies for communication during a crisis. It’s important to make the message relevant with a clear objective and tailored to the target audience.
2. Making It Credible
A crisis communication team needs to have credibility. It’s important for an audience to trust the response of the brand. The team should make sure that the delivery matches the message and there is evidence to support it.
3. Showing Competency
During crisis and change, it’s good to make an organization’s competency visible. Are there proper skills, knowledge and resources in place that’ll help get things done? It’s important for businesses to reassure everyone that they are ready to take ownership and make necessary changes.
At the heart of successful crisis communication lies the process of utilizing crucial communication skills and knowledge. Harappa’s Confident Communication Program will help employees achieve transformative outcomes, critical for workplace success by mastering essential Thrive Skills. They’ll not only learn to engage with greater impact but also synthesize ideas into a coherent narrative. This 15-week program with a blended learning format will empower your employees with the right knowledge and skills to thrive and excel in the world of work and shine as effective communicators!
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