Communicating in Times of Crisis
By Steve Sugerman
During times of crisis, clients find themselves in unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory. Usually, the CEO is huddled with a battery of advisors – lawyers, board members, financial experts. To help the issue “go away,” many of these advisors offer PR advice ranging from “say nothing” to “let’s get out there and play offense.” It’s rarely so simple.
Our job is to help these organizations assess the entire communications landscape…quickly. That means getting to the truth; gaining an understanding of the legal, business and political ramifications of the issue at hand; and identifying the constituencies that are critical to a client’s success. With this information in hand, it’s time to communicate in a clear and concise way, demonstrating leadership to the audiences that matter most. Success during times of crisis usually occurs in a very short time frame, so the better prepared a client can be, the better.
Crises handled well fade from memory. Handled poorly and the crisis seems to live on and on. Our advice? Communicate honestly and confidently. Do what you know is right. Be sensitive to the audiences that matter most. And stick with the game plan.