Once the pandemic had started to wane, people could be excused from wanting to get back to the usual day-to-day communication work. It may have felt like time to banish those emergency meetings, gold control, warning and informing and other demands on scarce resources. But in the uncertain world, we face reviewing and developing your crisis approach is essential to face the future.
Being crisis ready does not need to be a time-consuming and laborious process. It can, and should, enhance daily communication activity. What is required is a fresh look at the existing plans and the business risks and the systems that can take the pressure off at the testing time.
After around 30 years of relative stability, the next few months and years appear to be more fragile, so this focus on crisis response can build resilience. The two-day crisis communication masterclass delivered through Westco will bring these elements together so that PR and communication professionals can ensure they are ready for whatever comes next.
Since 2020 crisis communication has developed. It now needs to focus as much on empathy and humanity as it does on responding quickly and being accurate. Media training and leadership courses need to reflect these changes. They must create an environment where trust and confidence can be built with those affected by the crisis. In short, it means putting people at the centre of our approaches, plans, policies and procedures.
Where organisations have moved on from the Covid-19 crisis and want to look to a brighter future, they need to see crisis planning as essential and recognise the benefits of investing time in it. Communicators have a crucial role in this by highlighting the threats and risks, developing approaches, and counselling those at a senior level. To do the latter effectively means bringing case studies to the CEO and the board, discussing what methods were taken, what worked, and encouraging a fresh look at crises.
So what are the five things to remember about crisis communication in 2022 and beyond:
- putting people at the centre of your crisis development and response can help you to keep the focus on building trust and confidence
- authentic communication that is empathetic and human is worth more than any finely crafted words
- crisis communication matters to every person in the communication team and the business; start by looking at the needed training
- building your resilience will help to take the pressure off when faced with difficult decisions that need to be made
- keep a check on the risks you face and use environmental scanning to help identify the issues and situations that are tomorrow’s possible crisis.