Crisis Communication: Best Practices
Recently, our Zapwater summer interns had the pleasure of learning from our very own Vice President, Morgan Bellock, who has a plethora of experience and knowledge in crisis communications. Morgan defined crisis generally as, “any situation that is threatening or could threaten to harm people or property, seriously interrupt business, significantly damage reputation and/or negatively impact the bottom line.”
Crisis communication planning can help you deal effectively with unexpected disasters, emergencies or unusual events that could cause unfavorable publicity for your client or organization. Morgan spoke specifically to handling outreach to media and consumers as a public relations professional during a time of crisis for a client.
While every situation in crisis is bound to be handled differently given the circumstances, here are a few tips to live by:
1. State the facts. Information can be blurred or misused, especially during a time of heightened pressure. It’s important to inform the public and media with an objective stance on the event.
2. Provide information on what immediate steps are being implemented. The crisis has occurred and you can’t change that. However, you can act on the situation, do your best to help all those involved, and implement future procedures and preventative measures. When speaking to future company adjustments based on the crisis, be aware of what you are promising and stick to it.
3. Express empathy for those involved. The first and utmost concern of any crisis is safety. Make sure to address any safety concerns upfront. Remember to acknowledge all members involved and be sensitive to their role in the crisis and how they have been affected.
We are lucky to have such a well informed and experienced member on the Zapwater team! It was fascinating learning about the various elements of crisis communications. In the wake of a crisis, remember to stay calm, gather the facts, and communicate the situation with efficiency and accuracy.