How communications can help in a crisis

Published: Sep 15th, 2021

Updated: Mar 09th, 2022

“Never let a good crisis go to waste” is a mantra that has echoed down the years from the post-war period to the 2008 financial crash – and with good reason. Crises often yield important insights or force organisations to adapt to new, perhaps even better ways of working.

In the wake of Covid-19, the wisdom of responding strongly in times of crisis has been underlined more than ever.

Read on for our top tips on how to manage a crisis effectively with communications and PR.

More is more

Overcommunicating is better than under-communicating, as any silence or vagueness will inevitably give way to unease. More broadly, failing to take the initiative will risk your organisation surrendering control of the media narrative around your crisis – and that’s far more difficult to control once the horse has already bolted.

That said, while it’s important to provide reassurance where possible, it’s also critical to avoid sugar-coating your message to the point that it becomes misleading. In the longer term, this could actually worsen the public perception of your organisation if previously undisclosed details come to light.

Prioritise people

In moments of crisis, maintaining contact with your organisation’s external stakeholders is vital, but so too is keeping open the channels of communication with your staff. With the potential to be your most valuable supporters or your most powerful critics, staff both need and deserve to have their concerns taken seriously. Anticipate these concerns and respond proactively.

In addition, your senior leadership will likely have to come to bat for your organisation in a crisis, so it’s crucial that they are all prepared with media training. Often dismissed by members of the C-suite, proper training is an absolute essential and can make the difference between a media interview which salvages your organisation’s reputation and one which only does further damage.

Look forward

While coping with a crisis should always involve a certain amount of reflection and introspection, it is important not to focus so much on the past that you lose sight of the future. Indeed, although it was reportedly Churchill who first vowed never to waste a good crisis, it isn’t enough just to be a memorable wartime leader. Your organisation needs a plan for moving forward once the dust settles.

And communications can’t just stop when the crisis is over. Your comms team should remain an integral part of your organisation, rebuilding a positive media profile and taking proactive steps to ensure that the impact of the next crisis is mitigating as much as possible.

Every organisation experiences a crisis at one time or another. At Sapience Communications, we are crisis comms experts with a strong track record of supporting our clients through some of their most challenging periods, both during and before the pandemic. Why not get in touch to see what we can do for you?

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