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Crisis Communications – Managing complex and challenging situations!
QANTAS, PWC, Australia Post and Optus – big name national/international companies – who have been facing serious (and very public) crises unfold. How each of these companies responded and initiated their crisis communications approaches results in significantly different outcomes.
In this month’s blog, we take a deep dive into Crisis Management Communications and how to navigate complex and challenging situations!
Crisis management is a complex and challenging task. Crises are inherently unpredictable and unique, often accompanied by high levels of uncertainty regarding their causes and the scope of their impacts.
During a crisis, confusion and misinformation can easily spread through the media and public channels. This influx of false information, combined with the fear and concern for safety and well-being, can strain the very fabric of social cohesion.
We have seen of late some very significant crisis situations arise in real time and very publicly. It’s been a tumultuous few weeks for QANTAS, with relentless media attention and public scrutiny.
Other examples such as the Australia Post watch scandal, PWC government tax info leaks, KFC running out of chicken (yep we are serious, this happened and this was a crisis), any number of the numerous recent cyber attack situations experienced by national companies including Optus and Medibank.
How each of these companies responded and initiated their crisis communications approaches resulted in significantly different outcomes.
Image: recent QANTAS press call, image credit: The Australian newspaper
In the face of major crises, it becomes crucial to remain adaptable, organised, and prepared. The best way to mitigate the adverse impacts of a crisis on an organisation is through the creation of a Strategic Communications Plan that includes a strong crisis management approach or framework.
This plan plays a vital role in supporting cohesion, guiding accurate, timely and sensitive information and messages and how to communicate these to staff, externally to stakeholders, communities, and media. By ensuring that the right people receive the right messages at the right time from a trusted source, the erosion of trust can be combated, and positive behaviours encouraged.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to crisis response but being prepared and identifying the types of crisis or issues your business or brand may face will arm you to be on the front foot should a significant or serious situation arise.
The framework to manage communication during a crisis – contains a number of C’s…..of course because we are C7EVEN and we love a good C!
Here’s our top stages for crisis communications: Coordinate, Communicate, Collaborate, Consolidate.
These stages, what communication and information and what you do in the first few hours/days of a crisis are the most critical in a social media world were information (and unfortunately mis-information) spreads quickly.
The role of communication in the coordinate stage is to lay the groundwork to respond effectively.
Information is prepared and ready and has been tested across various channels to determine what info goes out when and how.
The communication stage happens when a crisis occurs. The goal is to be candid, clear, and consistent when providing information.
Taking control of the narrative and delivering clear communications and importantly showing empathy.
Collaborate with stakeholders, other organisations such as emergency services, as required, start rebuilding confidence, trust with communication.
Listening and monitoring is also very important!
Stakeholders play a critical role in any crisis. They can help amplify messages quickly and often reach audiences that an organisation or business cannot do on its own.
Communication about action and what has been done…as we said we would do!
What are we going to do now/next in response to the crisis, with future focussed messaging.
Providing critical info and comms in a timely yet considered and organised manner is what helps successfully navigate a crisis situation, mitigate the impact and ideally, prevent it from happening again ….and because we know communications, we can help!
C7EVEN has significant expertise in assisting clients to navigate complex situations. Our team of qualified and professional PR and strategic communication specialists can handle the intricacies of a communication situation and support you through this.
From developing a Strategic Communications Plan, crisis management framework as well as media and crisis communications training – C7EVEN can help deliver a tailored approach, so CONTACT US!