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Crisis Communication: Navigating the First 60 Minutes

Michele Szczypka

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If you work in a service organization, you know the stakes are high, and public trust is critical. Effective communication is essential. The first 60 minutes following the onset of a crisis can set the tone for its ultimate resolution. Here are five things every leader should know about crisis communication that can foster success in your next crisis:

Establish a Comprehensive Plan: Anticipation is paramount. You should already have a thorough crisis communication plan detailing protocols, roles, and responsibilities specific to your industry. This plan should outline steps to be taken in the early stages of a crisis to ensure a rapid and efficient response. When your stakeholders are involved, quick action can save lives.

Designate a Specialized Team: Assemble a dedicated crisis communication team comprising people from diverse departments within your organization. Led by the Internal Communications team, this team should be thoroughly trained in the plan, have access to clear communication channels, and prepare to act swiftly during a crisis. Consider including legal, HR, security, operations, and risk management experts to ensure a holistic approach to crisis management.

Assess the Situation Thoroughly: Prioritize gathering accurate information and assess what’s happening. Determine the gravity and potential ramifications of the crisis, identify all relevant stakeholders, and anticipate any obstacles that may arise. Think like a concerned citizen or reporter and consider their perspectives and what they want to know by developing a methodical and investigative approach to uncovering valuable insights about the event.

Embrace Transparency and Authenticity: During a crisis, timely communications, transparency, authenticity, and unwavering resolve are indispensable. Promptly acknowledge what is happening, take ownership of errors or wrongdoing, and communicate openly with stakeholders. When you admit accountability, you can cultivate trust and credibility among your audience.

Remain Flexible and Adaptive: Adaptability is a cornerstone of effective crisis communication. As new information surfaces and the crisis evolves, be prepared to adjust your communication strategy accordingly. Keep track of media and communication responses. Stay agile, remain proactive, and learn from past experiences to refine your crisis preparedness efforts.

The first 60 minutes of a crisis are pivotal in shaping its trajectory and mitigating potential reputational harm. Leverage expertise when and where possible. Adhere to these principles and navigate crises effectively while safeguarding the well-being of the institutions and the communities you serve.

Need help to prepare for your crisis response?

The Stamats Crisis Communications team is experienced and ready. Connect with us before your crisis occurs.

Related reading: When Freedom of Expression Endangers Critical Stakeholder Support