How to do Good Communications

Good Communications should always be clear and concise

There are plenty of articles now providing specific advice on crisis communications and I am aware I am adding to that with these words. When faced with a crisis there are number of actions that need to take place but the fundamentals of how you communicate should focus on amplifying key traits such as authenticity and clarity. Because one thing remains constant – people react to authenticity.

Within a crisis that requires you to respond it is wise to have a core group of people dedicated to dealing with the communications element. Small numbers of people with clearly defined responsibilities helps to speed up actions and make the process more effective.

Time is always precious, not just in a crisis, but modern media channels operate at such a pace that is advised each company develops a pre-prepared action plan to react to any crisis situations. And that plan should be tested in quiet times to ensure you can react confidently and with flexibility.

In a crisis the advice is always to act quickly. It is very important if you can, not to lose control of the narrative. But you will have to recognise that you are more than likely working in a reactive manner. This is where having a prepared plan becomes important as you will have considered the actions you need to take and will not be responding on the totally on the hoof.

You should look to communicate early and often. But most importantly, be honest. Say what you know and say what you do not know. It is also crucial to explain what you are doing to fill in on what you do not know. It is important not to be seen to be ignoring issues.

Do not ignore your internal audience. Sometimes people focus too much on the external response. The response must be consistent and shared effectively both internally and externally. Your internal audience will be important advocates in any crisis you might have to react too.

Naturally social media needs to be a core part of the communications response. Your activity should reflect the tone of your overall response, and consistency of message should be introduced through the different channels you use to engage stakeholders.

So, you can see there are a number of key traits that follow what good communications is all about. On reflection they are as apt in good times as they are in crisis mode.

As communicators we are all telling the story of a business and its brand, so always it is important that that voice is authentic, open and transparent. Our communications should be constant – the story we tell must be clear and provide clarity. Ambiguity is a bad thing. Especially in a crisis.

It is also good not to be exploitative in a crisis. It should simply be about doing the right thing. How as a business you react at a trying time will have a long term bearing on how your business and its views are experienced moving forward past any immediate crisis. It takes a long, long time to create a trusted reputation. But it can be easily and quickly lost through poor communication. The best thing you can be, is be prepared. The right communications support will help you to do this.

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