How to Communicate in a Crisis

Read our simple tips for communicating bad news to customers or employees.
A calm response is a key part of crisis communications.
Image: Fabian Moller / Unsplash
In: Global Communications, Copywriting, Crisis Communications

In today's fast-paced and unpredictable world, no business is entirely immune to the unexpected. Disasters, whether natural or man-made, can strike at any time, posing a significant threat to your brand's reputation and overall success.

Amidst the chaos and uncertainty, how you communicate during these critical moments can make all the difference in determining the fate of your organisation.

"It's not how we fall; it's how we get back up again" – Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness's quote captures the essence of crisis management, and while it's impossible to prevent every crisis, companies can prepare themselves by developing a comprehensive crisis communication plan.

A well-crafted crisis communication plan should outline clear guidelines for responding to various emergencies, including:

  • Natural disasters
  • Data breaches
  • Product recalls
  • Negative media coverage

The plan should designate a team responsible for handling crisis communication, establish internal and external communication protocols, and identify key stakeholders who need to be informed.

Effective crisis communication involves transparency, empathy and timeliness. Companies should be open and honest with their stakeholders, acknowledging the situation and providing regular updates as information becomes available. It's important to demonstrate empathy for those affected by the crisis and express concern for their well-being. Finally, timely communication is essential to avoid the spread of misinformation and maintain control over the narrative.

Some companies, such as KFC, have successfully turned a potential fiasco into a PR opportunity thanks to well-timed and well-thought-out communications.

Others need to handle hot topics better and pay the price. United Airlines suffered serious image damage after an incident on one of its flights hit the headlines.

So, what can you do when things go wrong?

Maybe not this apology...
  1. Apologise

Issue a genuine and heartfelt public apology as quickly as you can. To avoid losing customers’ trust, you need to acknowledge that you didn’t live up to their expectations. Taking early control of the situation is crucial.

  1. Be honest and proactive

If you made a mistake, don’t try to hide the facts or make excuses. Be truthful about what happened, and outline the steps you will take to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Later, make sure you follow up on these steps.

  1. Work with a professional

In a crisis, the words you choose are more important than ever. So, take the time to speak to your PR team or a professional copywriter before you say or publish anything. This will help to prevent any rushed decisions or misunderstandings that could worsen the situation.

If you're looking for support with crisis communications, Bwritr can help.

Written by
Fiona Freeman
Writer. Reader. Nature Lover. Coffee Drinker. Managing Editor.
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