How to communicate in a crisis

The Coronavirus crisis we’re currently facing will no doubt challenge how businesses and organisations communicate through this period. Here’s some top tips on how to ensure your communications strategy is one less thing to worry about at this time…

Deal with the crisis, first

It makes sense to avoid spending time crafting slick communications messages until you’ve dealt with the immediate requirements of the crisis at hand. Once you’ve got a grip of the situation, and measures have been put into place, you’ll have more to talk about. That said, don’t put off talking about it because it’s bad news. 

Be clear, concise and consistent

During difficult and worrying times people want to be able to understand the current situation so that they can prepare or act accordingly. Avoid the temptation to ‘flower’ things up or hide difficult points. You’ll be respected more for being upfront.  

Honesty is the best policy

Don’t tell lies – that’s a given. Try to be as transparent as you can and say as much as you can. If you can’t say everything just yet, explain the reasons why you can’t say more and never give ‘no comment’.  

So, who’s in charge?

Your ‘top person’ i.e. CEO or managing director should always be seen to be leading from the front. Include a comment from them in any statements, put them in front of the media — suitably briefed of course — and make sure they are your main spokesperson. Also think about the different audiences they will be communicating to. 

Avoid confusion

Establish a hierarchy of contacts for statements/response – and make sure the whole team are aware of what they can and cannot say and who to direct queries on to. To reduce the likelihood of wider team members being approached, write and share a generic statement.

Don’t keep people in the dark

Make an announcement asap and provide regular updates. If you can commit to updates at specific time points even better. You might not always have anything further to say, but people will still be grateful for a ‘no further update’ update. 

Remember the CTA

Where should people go for additional information or who should they contact for further details? Tell the press who you’d like them to contact too – this ideally should be an experienced member of your communications team. 

Finally, don’t forget to thank those who have helped during the crisis when everything returns to some sort of normality. For businesses large and small, that day can’t come soon enough. 

For advice or support with your communications strategy contact Viva on 01706 214 340 or email tony@vivapr.co.uk