7C’s to Crisis Communication

Earlier this week, Mike Logan AM, author of The Asking Leader shared the below with us: 

危機

Weiji.

These are the Chinese characters for the word ‘crisis’. Famously, the word has been re-interpreted in the Western world to mean danger and opportunity. According to the 10th Edition of Xinhua Zidian, the character / (jī) has multiple meanings [11]:

Meaning 1.  “a point where things happen, change”, 危机 (wēijī),

Derivative Meaning 1.1. “an event that has a confidential nature”,

Derivative Meaning 1.2. “chance (opportunity), good timing”,

There is much irony in the word. The crisis we face is global, but Chinese of origin. Doubtless, it is a point where things happen and change. There is little that is now confidential about it, but it may be a chance or an opportunity.

It was rather thought provoking as we were are in the midst of helping our clients with their crisis communications, we thought it would be worthwhile sharing, along with some of our top tips on managing communication in times of uncertainty and crisis.

To say that we are living in challenging times, would be an understatement.  The situation that we are all facing right now is unprecedented, and so there is no rule book on how to manage through this.  And while many companies do have Business Continuity Plan’s in place, there’s many that don’t and also a lot that have not ever thought about how they would communicate in times like this.  So, we thought now would be a good time to share our top seven tips for communication in times of crisis and uncertainty.

  • Centralise and Coordinate – As the adage goes, fail to plan, plan to fail.  The first thing you should do is get a plan in place.  The plan should detail:
    1. Who will be responsible for what during the crisis or period of uncertainty?  Who is your crisis response team?  And who will coordinate them?
    2. What are the immediate actions needed to ensure this person or group of people get what they need and who will coordinate this? 
    3. Identify your most important audiences (internal and external) and how they will be communicated with and their contact information. 
    4. Identify what you can say, need to say and can’t say – write it down!  These will form your key messages.  They will change as the situation unfolds, but it’s important that you keep to your key messages, to avoid getting drawn into semantics and speculation.
  • Be Candid – Tell the truth.  If you don’t know, say you don’t know.  Tell your audience what you are doing about the situation.   
  • Be Clear – Avoid semantics.  Short, to the point.  Don’t speculate.   
  • Be Consistent – Updates and reports should be provided in a consistent manner.  There are many options for communicating messages whether it be internal communications methods, media relations, stakeholder or investor relations or social media.  Rely on your communications and crisis response team who can ensure you use the right channel for each audience.

  • Collaborate –Reach out to and work with communications experts to ensure you are getting the best advice and support to navigate through this challenge. 

  • Show Competence –Avoid the urge to go in combat mode.  Show the audience that you are competent in what you do and that you are managing this situation as best you can with what you have. 

  • Consolidate – After the initial crisis response, consolidate what you have done, and consolidate what you’ve learned.  There’s sure to be some opportunities uncovered during the situation and more than enough information to help you plan again for the next challenge. 

If you’re ever in need of crisis communications expertise, or even just a review of your existing communications plans, C7EVEN has a team of experienced communication professionals who can help. 
Drop us a line 02 6766 4513 or email enquiries@c7even.com.au