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A quick guide to crisis communications

Most of the time we aren’t going to be confronting a public crisis…

But on occasion, the situation might arise. So, I thought I would give you a few principles to help tackle this kind of situation really quickly…

1. Stop: Too many times leaders and companies get themselves in trouble by rushing to make a statement or take an action so that they can show they are “on the case.” This is almost always a bad idea. It reminds me of the old saying, “How do you get yourself out of a hole? First, stop digging.” Same thing applies here…stop for a moment, access the situation. 

2. Gather information: This goes hand in hand with the need to stop and the desire to prove that you are engaged with the crisis, but too many times we make stupid or unwise statements because we don’t have the right information. So gather information. In most cases, people will understand if you have imperfect information, but make sure you are gathering information before you make a statement. 

3. Be Honest: This is where the lawyers get into the messaging business and cause really bad PR disasters. Here is a real, hard rule…don’t lie, don’t dissemble, be honest. If you can’t be honest, you have some much more serious issues and you probably need to not make a statement period.

4. Communicate Openly: In a crisis situation, you aren’t going to have all the answers, perfect information, or a perfect response. What you can do is communicate openly in a way that is relevant and that respects your audience. That’s really all any audience can expect…

If all else fails, go back to step 1.