Considering the current state of emergency sweeping the world, businesses without an established crisis communications policy or plan are seeking quick tips for managing their social media and other accounts. We have comprised a list of the most standard tips for managing your communications strategy during this sensitive time. While your industry may call for a different set of responses, these tips provide sound advice for any organization looking to communicate effectively during this time.
Understand the Crisis
Don’t jump wholeheartedly into communicating about the crisis without a sound understanding of the facts. Do your research from respectable and reliable organizations, not gossip. Don’t jump to conclusions and make sure you consider the short and long-term impacts of the situation on your customers and audience. Be aware that even the most reliable news sources are sometimes incorrect and report too quickly. Make sure what you’re quoting or reporting is being checked and substantiated by multiple, reliable news outlets and agencies.
Your audience is now accustomed to quick almost instantaneous responses online from sources. When organizations do not address an issue or respond to a relevant event, customers begin to suspect that the organization may be hiding something or may have some sort of negative attitude toward a situation, or even guilt! Don’t wait to respond online or think your customers will not notice your sudden absence online. Even a day may be too long to wait in the aftermath of a crisis. Hours may also be too long. Try to have messages prepared in the event of a crisis in advance, but when that is not possible, recognize the situation online. Don’t act oblivious to something everyone is aware of and commenting on.
Keep your audience calm by providing timely and consistent message that they can expect and rely on. Apprise your audience of the circumstances of the situation on a regular consistent basis. Then let them know when they will expect their next update. Don’t make people wonder if or when they will receive another update. By sharing information regularly, your audience will learn to trust you and that will help them remain calm. When you do not provide information as you promise, your audience will begin to doubt your sincerity and trustworthiness.
Determine your Core Message
What is the theme of your message? Decide what it will be and be consistent in your messaging. Avoid being argumentative or defensive about your stance. Clearly and repeatedly state your core message in a reliable, timely, constant fashion.
Make the Message Clear
Although in an unexpected and dramatic situation, individuals may be tempted to think deeply to offer greater meanings or ideas, an emergency is not the time to speak in poetic or complicated language that may be difficult to decipher for some of your audience. Be as clear and focused as possible stating as many facts as are appropriate and avoid attempting to speak in high, unfamiliar language.
Keep the Message Consistent
During an emergency, people may become confused and disoriented. While a speaker may think a message is clear and easy to understand, it may be necessary to repeat the same message in a consistent fashion before your audience understands. During an emergency, people may not be able to comprehend or decipher information as easily, so repeating the same, similar message is crucial.
If you have a good relationship with several individuals or organizations who are not directly affiliated or employed by your organization, now is a good time to leverage their support. Ask kindly for them to stand beside your message and reiterate it for your audience and theirs. Leverage their impartial relationship in order to gain the trust of your audience.
Monitor Social Media
Do not post to social media and then ignore your users comments. If your organization decides that social media is an appropriate place to respond to a certain situation, make sure your posts are regularly monitored and that someone is available to respond to questions and comments.
Put the Victims First
Although you may feel that the crisis is having its worst impact on your organization as a whole, depending on the circumstances, it’s possible that there are victims whose situation is of far worse or critical standing than yours. Always put them first in your communications, Do not gloss over their suffering or circumstances, be clear about your sympathy for their situation and suffering.
Communication Can Save Lives
Depending on the status of your organization, don’t forget that providing reliable and helpful communications can save lives. Making individuals aware of facts and preventative measures may prevent an escalation of the crisis.
Don’t Play the Blame Game
Avoid blaming others for the situation. Especially before experts have decisively and definitely pinpointed the cause of the situation. Continue to focus on the victims and do not begin to blame individuals or organizations or make accusations of guilt.
Avoid acting as if you have no information and avoiding comment. Be up front and forward about acknowledging the facts of the situation. Avoid keeping totally quiet and acting as if nothing has occurred.
Keep Your Employees in the Loop
While you are notifying your audience outside of your organization about the circumstances, don’t overlook your company employees and your official, internal lines of communication. Make sure your employees are kept abreast of the situation through your internal lines of communication while you are publishing public notifications.
Preparation Is Key
Be prepared with your approach before an emergency. Create a Business Continuity Plan for your company and make sure you have systems set in place for responding to emergencies before emergencies take place.
If you need help managing your communications strategy and forming a business continuity plan, contact Cote Media today!