Our interconnected world has changed the rules for how organizations must operate crisis communications
Marketing Tech Blog recently posted ten new rules of crisis communications developed by Melissa Agnes. We agree! Our world has changed and how we exchange information and communicate has also changed over the past two decades. As businesses and organizations adapt, these rules should be kept handy. Without further ado, let’s get talking about these ten new rules.
Crisis Communications Rule #1: “Communications are now a two-way street, whether you want them to be, or not.”
Let’s use social media as an example. And a crisis like the McKinney, TX pool party situation. Whether the city of McKinney liked it or not, social media and the internet allowed for a lot of back and forth of opinions on the circumstances surrounding the police and the party-goers. As opinions began to fly, facts got muddled and very quickly. Social media also gives a voice to those who otherwise would not be heard. And it can be out there for everyone to see — the good, the bad and the ugly. No matter what the crisis, there are tools available for two-way crisis communications to those internal to your organization and with the public.
Crisis Communications Rule #2: “Real-time is not just a suggestion but an expectation of you audience – an expectation that will not turn in your favor if unmet.”
In a non-emergency situation we’ve become accustomed to having information on demand. Don’t think people are going to be more patient during a crisis. Things may be hectic and stressful, but the earlier you can implement your organization’s crisis communication plan the better. People, including your employees, tenants and the public, want to know what’s going on. Take the Ebola crisis in Dallas. Organizations got hammered by the media for the crisis communications efforts that were put forward. People were left afraid, scared and not confident in the decision makers.
Crisis Communications Rule #3: “Being Informative is the only way. If you’re not informative somebody else will be – on a channel that your organization has zero control over.”
If your organization or business finds itself dealing with a crisis communications situation — don’t wait to communicate. It won’t be long before someone snaps a picture on their smartphone or tweets out news of what they think is going on. Beat them to the punch with information that is from you — a valid source — and honest about what’s going on. Information and news gets pushed to us every day, we don’t have to go looking for it. Make sure you stay ahead of the game when it comes to crisis communications.
Crisis Communications Rule #4: “Listen, listen, listen! Listen to what others are saying and publishing, to what they are not saying, and where they are and are not saying it.”
The rule to listen and see what others are and are not saying may not be all that new, but looking where others are talking can be important. There are so many crisis communications outlets — television, radio, newspaper (the traditional channels) and about a billion different places online that crisis communications can be shared not to mention Smartphone notifications and text messages. Check out places that are applicable to your organization and make sure the facts are being reported correctly.
Crisis Communications Rule #5: “When you properly combine real-time and two-way you get responsive. Your audience will be responsive and so you must.”
There’s nothing more unsettling then putting crisis communications out there and hear crickets in return. You want a responsive audience. Are your crisis communications being heard/read? Is the information you are providing helping others? What questions do your employees and the public have about the unfolding situation? What questions do the media want answered? Combining real-time information with the ability to listen and receive feedback is key.
Crisis Communications Rule #6: “Sincerity, honesty and meaningful apologies go a long way. But remember: actions speak so much louder than words. You have to say what you mean and prove it.”
This rule reminds me of the quote by Lewis Cass: “people may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.” I think we’ve all known someone or an organization that made promises but never came through. Don’t be that organization during a crisis. Keep crisis communications simple, clear and concise and include life-saving information, facts and updates on whatever the situation is. Don’t make a promise you don’t intend to keep and always follow through with the ones you do make.
Crisis Communications Rule #7: “Humans dealing with humans. Forget the corporate and legal talk. Forget hiding behind a logo. Your audience expects to hear from the humans behind the brand.”
Online and text based communications make it easier for organizational leaders and mangers to “hide” behind their statements. While a lot of good can come from crisis communications being disseminated through these channels, get in front of your employees, your tenants, the public — whoever — and talk to them face-to-face. Show empathy towards the people looking up to you and you might receive some in return.
Crisis Communications #8: “Adaptability and flexibility need to be incorporated into your corporate culture – not to mention your crisis communications strategy. The digital landscape changes often and quickly. Staying stagnant will leave you vulnerable.”
Adaptability and flexibility are great qualities for an organization’s leaders and mangers. Especially during a crisis. When a situation is unfolding you may not always know what to expect. It’s okay to say that you don’t know or that you will keep everyone update as soon as you find out the facts. Better to leave yourself in a flexible position than one you’ll end up having to apologize for later.
Crisis Communications Rule #9: “Twitter is the social media platform that dominates the dissemination of news and information in a crisis. Making your crisis-communications Twitter-friendly is essential.”
Despite this rule being near the bottom of the list, social media has changed crisis communications — and all communications for that matter — the most. Twitter is a big one but don’t forget about other social media channels as well. In fact, in a crisis, getting as must factual information out there on all your organization’s social media channels may prove beneficial to your employees, tenants, the public as well as your organization’s reputation.
Crisis Communications Rule #10: “Internal communications are key to today’s successful crisis management. Point final.”
Many of these new rules are geared toward external crisis communications. As a final note, during a crisis situations make sure you’ve fully briefed your internal stakeholders (employees, tenants, board members, family members, etc.) on the developing situation. Make sure it is clear who is authorized to speak to the media and public in an official capacity and minimize the chance that an internal stakeholder comes forward with information that doesn’t line up with your organization’s crisis communications. Take care of your own, first.
For more information about the crisis communications tools Pocketstop has to offer, give us a call at 877-844-2444 or go to www.pocketstop.com to live chat with us today.