Effective communication is essential during times of crisis to reduce the negative effects on people, organizations, and communities. However, without sufficient preparation and execution, even the best-intentioned communication attempts might fail. Here are five more pieces of advice on how to avoid crisis communication mistakes in this response, which can help people and organizations deal with a crisis more successfully. To ensure that communication efforts are clear, timely, and effective, these guidelines build on the fundamentals of effective crisis communication and emphasize some frequent errors that should be avoided.
5 Additional Tips of Crisis Communication Mistakes to Prevent
a. Don’t Listen to Your Stakeholders
Make sure that all your decisions are based on your best thinking alone. After all, how would your clients/customers, employees, referral sources, investors, industry leaders, or other stakeholders’ feedback be at all useful to determining how to communicate with them?
b. Assume That Truth Will Triumph over All
You have the facts on your side, by golly, and you know the American public will eventually come around and realize that. Disregard the proven concept that perception is as damaging as reality — sometimes more so.
c. Address Only Issues and Ignore Feelings
* The green goo which spilled on our property is absolutely harmless to humans.
* Our development plans are all in accordance with appropriate regulations.
* The lawsuit is totally without merit.
So what if people are scared? Angry? You’re not a psychologist…right?
d. Make Only Written Statements
Face it, it’s a lot easier to communicate via written statements only. No fear of looking or sounding foolish. Less chance of being misquoted. Sure, it’s impersonal and some people think it means you’re hiding and afraid, but you know they’re wrong and that’s what’s important.
e. Use “Best Guess” Methods of Assessing Damage
“Oh my God, we’re the front page (negative) story, we’re ruined!” Congratulations — you may have just made a mountain out of a molehill…OK, maybe you only made a small building out of a molehill. See item 7, above, for the best source of information on the real impact of a crisis.
f. Do the Same Thing Over and Over Again Expecting Different Results
The last time you had negative news coverage you just ignored media calls, perhaps at the advice of legal counsel or simply because you felt that no matter what you said, the media would get it wrong. The result was a lot of concern amongst all of your audiences, internal and external, and the aftermath took quite a while to fade away.
So, the next time you have a crisis, you’re going to do the same thing, right? Because “stuff happens” and you can’t improve the situation by attempting to improve communications… can you?
For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management