5 Communications Things To Do Immediately When A Crisis Occurs

Photo courtesy of Scott Graham on Unsplash

By Brianne Miller, LCI

Everyone’s heart skips a beat when faced with a communications crisis.

Whether it’s an employee issue, product recall or natural disaster that affects your business, here are 5 tips for weathering the storm during a crisis:

  1. Assemble your team. Crisis means “all hands on deck.” It’s imperative to get everyone together quickly to figure out who is doing what.
  2. Where is the biggest impact? Identify which of your audiences/constituencies will be most affected by the situation you’re facing. Make sure that group is your top priority.
  3. Develop a strategy and message points based on honesty, empathy and responsibility. Get as much information as you can – and when you don’t have the information, admit it. Take responsibility when warranted. Express empathy with employees regarding the effects of the crisis on their lives. Corporations that fail to express remorse during a crisis will not be remembered fondly.
  4. Adhere to legal guidelines. Legal counsel should be on the front lines. Run key messaging by them.
  5. Implement with honesty, and stay on the job for as long as it takes. Some crises are over in a day, others in months. Media will remember you were available and straightforward. Customers will appreciate honest explanations. Partners will remain as such when you act with integrity.

Want to learn more about Crisis Communications?

We’ve published a checklist for crisis communications, available for free.


Got Feedback? Comment below or email me [email protected]


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A Peek Inside a Crisis War Room From Chicago Navy Pier’s Top Communicator

 Planning for the worst: Crisis communications 101

5 Ways to Use Your Blog to Manage a Crisis

3 thoughts on “5 Communications Things To Do Immediately When A Crisis Occurs

  1. Thanks, Brianne. And the first thing I would add is: be prepared! Before a crisis hits, make sure you have a crisis communications plan in place. Cheers, David

  2. I absolutely agree with David – having a crisis response plan and playbook in place is essential when adrenaline is running high. Also – and this is my direct plea to the C-suite – make sure that the PR team is at the table from the START of the crisis. Legal considerations are often at odds with communications needs, and EVERYONE needs to be in the room as those complexities are worked out.

  3. And – make sure everyone in the organization knows who the go-to people are for communications. Remind employees and executive staff that all media inquiries should be referred to the PR team.

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