How to communicate during a crisis situation
The corona virus proves how important and relevant clear communication is in times of crisis. There has been a lot of confusion and uncertainty in recent days. Keeping people informed can help control this challenging situation and keep an overview. It’s not always easy to respond immediately when a situation like the corona crisis arises. However, if you focus on the right aspects, it‘s perfectly possible to get a grip on the situation…
STEP 1 | Draw up a crisis communication plan
Fact: a crisis communication plan is best made before a crisis occurs. But as most crisis situations come without a warning, most of us won’t have one ready beforehand. And if you don’t, there’s no need to worry. By all means keep calm and put things into perspective. First of all, decide how you want to communicate as a brand. This communication involves both internal as external communication. Answer the following questions for yourself and use those as a base for what you intend to communicate:
What’s the impact of the situation on my company?
How does the crisis affect my employees, partners, customers, …
Which information is relevant in this situation and which isn’t?
Which position does my company take?
STEP 2 | Decide who takes charge of the communication
Assign the right people to take the lead of your communication when a crisis situation occurs. Who’s the decision maker? Who will set the tone of voice? Who will handle the execution? Keep your communication line as short as possible. This will enable you to take action quickly and accurately.
STEP 3 | Pick the right communication channels
A good plan is to create re-usable material to communicate. Write out guidelines and set up templates with different sets of copy and design that you can quickly fill in with the necessary information. It will help you communicate fast and consistently, without losing valuable time.
1. Choose a format
Email is a format to share a lot of information in a well-structured way. Once you have a template ready, all you need to do is ‘fill it up’ with the necessary content and send it out. Keep in mind that a crisis can become prone to fake news on social media. Social media however, is ideal if you want to set up or support a solidarity campaign as a brand.
2. Select the right content
If you want to inform people through email, your crisis-themed emails should be clear and straight-forward. Hand the reader all the relevant information that you can at the time. When sharing that information, be sure to always remain friendly and positive, but decisive. Keep in mind that, in hard times, people want to be reassured.
3. Create a landing page
Before sending out emails in connection with the crisis, it’s useful to have a landing page ready that bundles all information about the situation. This allows you to add CTAs to your email that link to this page and immediately answer questions about the crisis topic.
4. Follow up with updates on the situation
Once your first crisis email has been sent, follow up with relevant updates on the latest developments. This will prevent your readers from getting confused and puzzled. Keep your communication honest, consistent and clear at all times. With pre-designed templates, you can send out every necessary update on the fly.
5. Stay open for questions and assistance
In a crisis situation, your audience will probably have questions. So make sure you are available to answer their questions and provide help to people who need it. This allows you to keep up a positive company image and ensures that customer satisfaction rates remain high. Anticipate on this by adding ample contact options and offering a form to send in questions.
Ultimately, it's all about informing your target groups and being consistent. As long as you continue to provide your target group with relevant and helpful information, you will keep misunderstandings and confusion to a minimum. Keep the crisis communication that you send out empathic and positive, as it will undoubtedly rub off on your contacts.