And then there it is that crisis in society or your organization. A national fireworks ban causes riots in your municipality, a severe incident, or a driver in disrepute.
The crisis communication scenario is included, and as a communication professional, you are ready to go for it.
How do you ensure that you are well prepared to start? And how do you keep focus and stay upright if the crisis lasts longer than a few days or weeks? Today we’ll give 10 practical tips to help you with this.
Staffing: think broader than the communication department
Every situation is different. Your communications department can be large or small, and a crisis can last short or long. Think broader than your own department when it comes to staffing your crisis communication team.
Policy officers, secretaries, colleagues from HR, IT, or Facility Management can play a valuable support role. This includes monitoring social media, recording press inquiries, and preparing Q & As. It works efficiently if this has already been worked out in the crisis communication scenario.
Involve other organizations
You hardly ever tackle a crisis as an organization alone. Also, seek coordination with and capacity with other involved organizations. The fireworks ban is an excellent example of coordinating communication with neighboring municipalities. How do they deal with protests against the ban and possible exemption from carbide shooting?
What is the sentiment like among residents? Together you can organize better, bundle manpower, and convey an unambiguous message to citizens and media. In this way, you can enter the crisis more firmly with more knowledge, coordination, and decisiveness.
Especially now that we work from home a lot, you can easily be consumed by all communication actions during a crisis. Keeping and monitoring the website and social media channels up to date, creating Q & As answering press questions, arranging internal communication, and you name it. You are working very hard, while your colleagues in the organization may not even be aware of what is going on.
So scale up immediately and ask colleagues to help. If the crisis remains limited, you can also scale down quickly. When it gets huge, you have your team in order. Organizing enough relief forces is one of the most time-consuming tasks during a crisis.
Arrange a buddy
You run from one meeting to another, answer questions from the press, and there is hardly any time to work out appointments, catch up with colleagues, or be available at all. It helps if you have a colleague who is available when you are in consultation.
Someone who keeps an eye on the shared mailbox and with whom you can work tandem. He can function as a substitute, but also as an assistant, depending on who is available. Again, think broader than the communication department.
Determine to which email address all questions about a crisis will go. Manage this mailbox together with your buddy and label the system. Place a label with your name or that of your buddy with an email to know who is working on what.
And also, use a label when something has been dealt with. That way, you don’t lose valuable time doing things twice.
Provide a mandate
If you have to act quickly, it doesn’t help if your communications have to be checked by many people. Make agreements in advance about what kind of communication should be seen and limit this to the essential people.
Determine the communication strategy and the core message in the internal crisis team, after which you have a mandate and, therefore, the freedom to act as a communication professional in the implementation of the resources.
Beware of side steering
Well-intentioned managers who ask how things are going want to stay up to date and give you unsolicited tips that don’t help: beware of these distractions and ensure a clear command structure.
Who is on the crisis team, who makes which decisions, and what do you coordinate with whom? Make it clear who has which tasks. And therefore also those who have no task!
Tips from people who call, email, and app, you can also distract you from what you need to do: provide information, offer a perspective for action, and provide clarification. F
Focus on that and don’t include other things. Create a separate app group for the internal crisis team and agree on a clear app usage code: only functional communication in this crisis app.
It seems to contradict the above point, but this coin also has two sides. Make time to send a thank-you note to your colleagues for their involvement. Or ask a creative colleague to create a social app or Facebook group that serves as an outlet and for sharing motivational messages, fun GIFs, and emoticons. Of course, you are also part of the group.
Evaluating = learning
Thus the crisis is over. The pitfall is to go straight to the order of the day. But another crisis could emerge tomorrow.
Therefore take time for reflection and evaluation.
- How did you experience the crisis?
- How were the communication campaigns received?
- How did the cooperation go?
- In short, what went well and what could be improved?
Ask everyone in the crisis team to map this out for themselves and discuss it during a joint evaluation. Use these insights to update the crisis communication scenario and ensure that everyone in the team has the current version.
And finally, keep regularly practicing with the internal crisis team. That way, you are always well prepared! Do you want to know more, or do you need help with your crisis communication or another marketing or communication issue?