If you’re in the business of business continuity, you know how important it is to be prepared to reach out to your team in the event of an interruption. Once a crisis strikes and everyone is in a scramble, there isn’t time to carefully craft a thoughtful message. It helps to have a few templates in your back pocket that you can fit to the situation. But now and then, even the best communicators are caught off guard and make mistakes in conveying an important message to their teams.
That’s where it helps to be familiar with simple best practices and take heed from the lessons others have learned the hard way. Sometimes just a simple slip can convey a message that is really not at all what you meant to say. Take, for example, the famous story of J. Edgar Hoover, who noted to his secretary to watch the narrow borders of a communiqué she was preparing to send in his name. Misunderstanding, she included a note to “watch the boarders” in the piece. This caused agents to increase vigilance on the borders of Mexico and Canada as they puzzled over what Hoover knew that they didn’t.
There are lots of tips and trick to keeping your communication clear and on target while trying to keep your business on track. Here are a few:
- Read and re-read alerts for clarity before you send them
- Communicate early and often, even if it’s just to say you have nothing new to report
- Consider who will deliver your message, and tailor the message to the groups or individuals who will receive it
- Monitor social websites for rumors and conjecture and be prepared to counter them with real information
- Focus on your organization’s overall mission and vision and keep your messages aligned
There are many more tips, tricks and lessons learned that can benefit the business continuity professional or anyone else who may have to send a critical message in times of crisis.