3 crisis communications mistakes to avoid

Tragic events cast a spotlight on an area of communications of particular concern for PR pros – crisis communications. Whether it’s a horrible tragedy, or a branding misstep, there are […]

April 18, 2016 // Bonnie // No Comments //

Tragic events cast a spotlight on an area of communications of particular concern for PR pros – crisis communications. Whether it’s a horrible tragedy, or a branding misstep, there are certain ways you should, and shouldn’t, manage a crisis.

Credit: knowthenetwork.com

Today, a quick look at three crisis communications mistakes to avoid:

1.  Not having a plan

The absolute worst time to start working on a crisis communications plan is during a crisis. Take the time now to develop a clear set of guidelines to follow in the event of a crisis. This includes identifying key people who can speak on behalf of your organization, developing key messaging and establishing a notification system so you’ll know immediately if something has gone wrong.

For more on how to get organized for a crisis, check out this post outlining “5 steps to develop a crisis communication plan”.

2.  Not factoring in social media

Bad news travels fast in today’s digital world. Social media has given average people the tools and ability to act as citizen journalists, uploading videos and sharing first person accounts in real-time. Breaking news no longer waits for traditional media and neither can you.

Set out a clear plan for utilizing social media during a crisis. Know exactly who will execute that plan and make sure approval and informational support procedures are in place. Check out this post from PR Daily for some specific crisis communications tips for social media managers.

3.  Focusing on issues and forgetting humans

This mistake can be especially detrimental in times of tragedy. Emotions run high during a crisis. And whether it involves the loss of human life or an offensive rogue ad campaign, like the McDonald’s ad that parodied mental illness, it’s important to remember that real people are involved. It can be easy to focus solely on the facts but you risk alienating people and escalating an already sensitive topic.

Make sure your crisis communication plan balances human and organizational interests. It’s also important to ensure your communications are written using a real-human friendly tone.

Now that you know what not to do, here are a couple of posts that offer tips you should follow for successful crisis communications: