Crisis Communication

Managing the Chaos: A Guide for Internal Crisis Communications

By: Amanda Braniecki

At first-word of a potential crisis, companies immediately begin assessing the threat and developing a plan to minimize the public impact to their organization. It is a logical step to want to protect the brand from a looming or full-blown crisis, and being proactive will help when it comes to weathering the storm.

However, in the chaos that crisis situations bring about, companies often lose sight of an important audience: their own team members.

As the frontline of operations, and built-in brand ambassadors, effective communication to team members during a crisis will eliminate concerns and confusion, ensuring productivity levels remain high and rumors stay at a minimum.

Below is a guide to get you started in your internal crisis communication plans.

Move Quickly and Across Channels. 
Bad news travels fast. The last thing leadership wants is their team finding out about a crisis from an outside party. While preparing external messaging according to your response plan, businesses want to simultaneously be creating their internal communications. And, it is best to touch base with employees across channels—leverage your internal portal, company emails and face-to-face interactions to ensure the facts get communicated effectively to every employee at every touch point.

Empower Employees with Facts.
Don’t forget that anything put in writing can be made public, so be as transparent as possible without putting the business at greater risk. Employees supplied with the facts are given the right resources to serve as brand and community advocates should they be approached about the situation unfolding. This will also help build a deeper trust and respect between leadership and the rest of the organization. This is a good exercise to practice throughout the year—not just while you are in crisis mode.

Ditch the Corporate Talk.
Every business has a set mission and core values to guide its team’s performance. There is a time and place for these messages to be shared. In a crisis, employees don’t want pre-packaged corporate rhetoric. Authenticity and accountability in times of trouble will go a long way to humanizing situations.

Anticipate Questions and Provide Answers.
It isn’t enough to inform the team of a crisis—you need to anticipate what their biggest concerns are and address them head-on. One of the most popular questions is: “how will this impact my job?” While you may not have all the answers right away, let them know how the crisis is being handled and reinforce your commitment to the business and their professional success.

Incorporating these steps into your crisis communication plans can help you manage the situation at-hand, while also maintaining a positive internal perception of your brand.

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