Effective communication doesn’t happen by accident; it takes planning and preparation—and close attention to both avoid mistakes and follow best practices.
Common crisis communication mistakes
- Sending the wrong messaging. Consider using templated messages so you can choose your words ahead of time. Or at least some of them—robotic-sounding messaging will make you sound insincere.
- Targeting the wrong audience. It can be easy to make mistakes in the middle of a crisis. Prepare audience groups before disaster strikes, when heads are cooler.
- Thinking one size fits all. Tailor your notifications—too much information can be as damaging as not enough.
- Using the wrong mode. Send an alert by phone only, for example, and you’ll miss people who’ve been affected by outages. Consider phone, email, SMS and social media.
- Getting the timing wrong. Sending your message too early can cause panic; leaving it too late can weaken credibility and trust.
- Not providing a way to respond. If you let them, people on the ground—the ones in the action—can provide critical information.
- Ignoring social media. If you’re not part of the social media chatter around a crisis, your reputation in the community can rapidly sour.
Best practices for communicating in a crisis
- Having a spokesperson. By only allowing just one person (or alternates, of course) to speak officially, you’ll see better results.
- Training that spokesperson. Conduct media training with anyone who may be called on to speak for your company during a crisis.
- Establishing protocols. Know whom to call in and when, and decide ahead of time what warrants alerting.
- Defining—and relying on—your authority. Know in advance who can authorize the release of messages in each scenario.
- Knowing your stakeholders. Regularly update contact data so you know you have current and complete information for everyone before an interruption occurs.
- Developing key messages, and sticking to them. Weave the core values of your organization through every message to make sure that what’s important gets heard.
- Preparing as many messages as you can ahead of time. Drafting statements before a crisis will let you consider how they might be received.
- Actively engaging in social media—long before you need to. Building the right kind of community with stakeholders and the public can act as an insurance policy—people will be more forgiving in a crisis if they supported you beforehand.
- Using automated mass notification software. A platform like MIR3 will let you get your message out across multiple channels—and save time while doing it.
The bottom line
Planning and preparing today to avoid mistakes and embrace best practices can make the difference between success and failure. And that success, in turn, can save lives, preserve resources, protect assets, and help ensure your organization’s business continuity.
Learn more about BC management with The Definitive Guide to Business Continuity Planning. Interested in finding the best mass notification system? Download the Automated Notification System RFP Template.