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6 Crisis Communication Do’s & Don’ts

This video shows how Ramon de Leon better known as ‘Chicago’s Pizza guy’ averted a customer service crisis.

Think about some of the crises that have occurred in your organization. Nine times out of ten the response carried more weight than the crisis itself.  A lot of frustration and resentment occurs when the response to a critical situation is either too slow, or is not adequate.

Here are 6 communication do’s and don’ts to consider if you ever have to respond to a crisis:

Do:

  • Act quickly to gather the facts and respond to the problem.  This reduces speculation and resentment brought about by slow response.
  • Use the best people to speak on behalf of your organization.  This is usually the top executive or founder of the organization.
  • Correct erroneous information and rumors with current and accurate information.
  • Commit to regular, incremental release of information to keep your base abreast of the situation.
  • Communicate from the victim’s point of view using compassionate language that demonstrates solidarity and sympathy.
  • Make it up to those who have suffered!  Pledge to fix the problem and then keep your promise to do it!

Don’t:

  • Finger point in an attempt to divert criticism.   Blaming others will quickly dilute your reputation and give your base reason to go elsewhere.
  • Issue self-serving messages in an attempt to save face, e.g. “If we had known then, what we know now….” and other meaningless statements.
  • Use ‘tech’ speak when explaining yourself to your base.  Speak plainly and use terms that are easy to understand.  This re-assures your base that you’re in touch with them.
  • Issue conditional regrets such as, “We’re sorry but….”.  If you do this, you create the perception that you’re not really taking responsibility for your role in the problem.
  • Issue a press release to express your organization’s regret – at least not initially!  Wait until a top representative of the organization has spoken directly on the crisis and then follow up with a press release.
  • Allow employees to communicate on behalf of the organization!

There’s certainly more to it than this list, and hiring a PR expert may yield positive results.  However it’s a good idea to educate yourself on some of the basics.

Also as the video above shows, keep in mind that social media provides an excellent opportunity to respond to a crisis:

  • It is quick
  • It is cheap
  • It has a very wide reach
  • It provides a platform to engage directly with the base, answering their questions and addressing their concerns.

What are some of the ways that your organization has responded to crises?

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