Crisis Communication Steps In Crisis Situations

4 November 2018
crisis communication

Crisis Communication Steps In Crisis Situations

Communication in crisis situations is totally different from the traditional communication that a company, political party, association or any other entity may have to implement.

Traditional communication is based on a plan to be implemented in the short, medium or long term, the effects of which can be predicted in advance.
During a crisis situation, reactions must be positioned to a fair extent to find positive consequences that do not aggravate a situation that is already dangerous.
It is also important to note that during a crisis situation, public opinion and the press will often tend to side with those who happen to be most affected by the same crisis. As a result, these people find themselves as opinion leaders in a crisis that initially only affected them directly or indirectly. And to make matters worse, these opinion leaders who seem to be leading the crisis are often subjected to all the elements of language that surround us (reactions on social networks, media publications, press articles…). It is therefore essential to adapt your company’s reaction both to these language elements and to other communication axes that we will discuss in this article.

All these elements are to be known and mastered for companies wishing to know how to deal with a crisis situation that could impact them. What are all the solutions to be implemented to get out of a crisis situation? How to identify the major areas on which to work to put an end to a crisis affecting your company? Answers, advice and information in the following lines and paragraphs.

Identify the crisis that is affecting us

First, once the first tremors are felt on the company’s current activity, it is essential to identify the nature of the crisis that is affecting us. This step back is essential and must be taken by the company’s managers, first of all, in order to know where to go in order to find a way out of this crisis. All too often, it is a mistake not to take the necessary distance to identify the crisis affecting our company’s activity. Thus, we come to fight against events that are not at the origin of the evils we really encounter.
Unfortunately, the companies in this situation are those that manage to emerge from the crisis that affects them only after a rather long time. The most recent and striking example is Volkswagen and its rigged pollution test results. The German car manufacturer first fought the lack of transparency within its entity before finally fighting the real crisis: that of a known and proven scandal that awaits only an honest, frank and direct reaction to disappear.

The communication operation that follows this step backward must therefore be carried out on a sound basis, based on a real reflection on the nature of the crisis affecting the company. The example of Volkswagen that we mentioned earlier is a perfect illustration of what absolutely should not be done, regardless of the size of your company or its sector of activity. Obviously, it is not possible to take a long time to carry out this reflection, which should be done in a relatively short time, in order to prevent the crisis from getting even worse. However, it is necessary to find the right balance in order to adopt the best possible reaction to set up the ideal communication operation, and this in the shortest possible time.

A multivariate equation

In this communication operation, the equation between several variables must be solved, an equation that is essential to overcome the crisis =

  • The objectives of this operation: what should my company expect from this communication operation? What should she get at the end of this operation?
  • The causes that force the company to implement a communication operation in times of crisis: what is the nature of the crisis affecting my company? How did this crisis come about? Who are the actors behind this crisis?
  • The resources in place (human and material financial resources): for my communication operation, what are the means that my company will use to get out of the crisis?
  • Probable consequences: what are the scenarios that can happen once the operation is completed?

All these variables must be the subject of relevant, rapid and effective reflection in order to enable the crisis to be resolved as soon as possible. But it must nevertheless be stressed that this reflection, the resolution of the equation posed here, is perhaps the most complicated phase in the implementation of a crisis communication. Far too many companies have busted their teeth trying to forget one variable for the benefit of another. Thus, it is up to you, as an entrepreneur or executive, to consider all the data you have in your possession to successfully get your company out of the crisis it is facing.

The importance of the intern

Another aspect that is all too often forgotten when implementing crisis communication is the internal management of the company. Indeed, what are called the “thinking heads” in a company, i.e. the management of the company, should not be the only ones to think about the best ways out. It is essential to consult all levels of the company, including the workforce or employees working directly in the field. This consultation of all the company’s branches allows us to have a collective opinion on the current crisis and the best solutions to get out of it. This internal company use has rarely been implemented in the context of a crisis, but it must be noted that the results are more than convincing and that the companies that implemented this recourse were able to emerge from the crisis that affected them, and this in a rather rapid manner.

In conclusion, it is important to note that the communication of a company in a crisis phase is truly a baptism of fire that all companies are called upon to have, at least once during their existence. The use of a specialized agency is an ideal solution for all companies that do not feel ready to face this, or for companies that prefer to entrust crisis management to a specialist able to give them the best solutions.

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