Sunday, January 23, 2011

Does Open Sharing of Crisis Communication Strategies Affect its Effectiveness?

While sharing the crisis communications framework with a group of executives at a workshop recently, I was asked whether revealing the "mechanism" behind crisis communications would limit its effectiveness. After all, if stakeholders knew what you were trying to do, wouldn't they view your Messages with skepticism?

My answer was simple. All crisis communications is based on truth. And as the model suggests, the organisation's failure to gain the information initiative has allowed the crisis to take on a life of it own. As a result, the organization has either been falsely or maliciously attributed with responsibility.  Thus, if the organisation's crisis communication's Messages are aimed at (a) correcting false or malicious perceptions; and (b) helping stakeholders to better cope with the crisis, rational stakeholders would welcome the act.

A simple analogy is the sales process.  Every customer knows that the salesperson is not being friendly for nothing.  The salesperson is doing it with the clear intent of making a sale.  Knowing the salesperson's intent in no way changes the sales process.  The savvy customer still purchases only when the product meets his needs.  No matter how friendly the salesperson, if the product does not meet the customers' needs, the customer is unlikely to buy.

The same is true in the crisis communications process.

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