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Effective communications in a long-running crisis

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Effective communications in a long-running crisis

The past six weeks have presented unprecedented communication challenges for many firms. As businesses reflect on the experience and start to prepare for the next phase of the “new normal”, we consider meaningful steps to help strengthen reputations, protect brand value and put communications on the front foot for future crises – big or small.

Three questions to ask today

The uncertain outlook for coronavirus containment means many companies now face a prolonged period of careful message, perception and expectation management. To stay on point and attuned to the opportunities and risks, companies would do well to ask:

1.    How have our stakeholders’ needs and priorities changed as a result of Covid-19?

2.    Have we updated our key messages and comms strategy to reflect the situation?

3.    What role can communications play in helping us thrive in a post-Covid world?

Taking the time to reflect on these points will help to develop and adapt your proactive and reactive strategy as the situation evolves – ensuring you remain agile, resilient and prepared for the recovery phase

Striking the right tone

Companies have gone through some challenging weeks of communicating under sustained pressure, but there is also significant opportunity for those committed to doing the right thing. To achieve this, keep in mind the three Cs of crisis communications:

·         Concern: Above all, react as a human being first so you can empathise with your stakeholders and act as a business second.

·         Commitment: Demonstrate commitment to fulfilling your stakeholders trust in your position of responsibility.

·         Control: Strike the right balance between showing that you are in control and acknowledging that although you do not have all the answers you are able to anticipate outcomes during the various stages of the crises.

Now is the time for businesses to demonstrate leadership and empathy. How you say it is just as important as what you are saying. While your key messages should remain consistent, the tone of voice must not only be adapted for different channels and audiences, but also to reflect a fast-moving situation.

What was acceptable one week might be insensitive to repeat if events have taken an unexpected turn. Identify what needs updating, adopt a growth mindset and new practices so you can emerge stronger and be on the front foot where possible.

Benchmark your approach

With multiple stakeholders to manange, you may be wondering how to prioritise your focus or know that you’ve done enough.

Our CrisisCommsOptic tool is designed to help firms benchmark their approach against industry best practice when it comes to resourcing, montioring, stakeholders, spokespeople, templates, training and reviews.

Registration is free of charge and the review takes less than 30 minutes, or half a lunch break, to complete in order to receive a tailored report with recommendations.

In case you missed it…

Our best practice webinar with the Financial Services Forum, Effective communications in a crisis: when theory becomes reality, gave further insights, case studies and practical tips.

You can watch the webinar on catchup or read our views on how crises can make or break reputations and how some firms may find reputational redemption in the face of Covid-19.

If you’d like to discuss any of these points or learn more about how we can support clients through these extraordinary times please get in touch here.

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