It always surprises us how businesses, even top brands, can mess up their crisis communications. While social media has definitely changed the information environment, the fundamentals of dealing with a crisis has essentially remained unchanged. Many companies fail as they do not recognise this fact and over-complicate their response during a crisis.
In the new information environment, aside from requiring a faster response, the 5 essential elements of an effective crisis communications remains as ....
- being OPEN
- providing TIMELY information
- being TRUTHFUL
- communicating BROADLY
- having a SOCIAL MEDIA presence
If we look at the 5 elements mentioned above, we can see that crisis communications is about getting the right information to the right stakeholder at the right time. While this may seem complicated, it is not. Stakeholders are people just like you and me, and effective crisis communications is simply about telling our side of the story.
The only thing that has changed over the years is the platform used. In the past, crisis communicators rely on intermediaries like main stream media, newspapers ads and press conferences to communicate with their stakeholders. Today, even though crisis communicators still rely on intermediaries, crisis communicators now have additional social media channels like company websites, Facebook page, YouTube videos and even Google Adwords.
As mentioned earlier, aside from the speed needed to deal with a crisis in today's new information environment, everything else remains the same. In short, crisis communications today is not significantly different from crisis communications in the past. What worked then, still works today as we are dealing with people.