One of the challenges of communicating effectively in times of viral issue and crisis management is ensuring that your brand’s communications are consistent across every stakeholder group, region and department. In other words, you don’t want one team of people saying one thing, while another team says another.
Depending on the size and structure of your organization, this can be a challenge that leads to leadership strategizing ways by which they can add a security measure of ‘control’ to the message’s delivery.
But, if you aren’t careful, that added layer of attempted control can be your downfall.
Crisis communication is complex, dynamic and critically important to get right. After all, one of the Crisis Ready Rules is: The longer you take to effectively communicate in times of viral issue and crisis, the more control over the narrative you lose, the more trust and credibility you lose with those who matter most to your brand, and the more Crisis Response Penalty* (CRP) you suffer.
So, while message consistency is essential, it is only one of the many aspects you need to get right in order to successfully manage high-stakes situations. You, therefore, don’t want the processes and controls you put around ensuring your message consistency to hinder the delivery of those important communications.
And yet, this is a mistake that can be easily made.
In the following Crisis Ready Video, I share an example of a company who is getting this wrong, the reason behind why it’s wrong, and the ways by which you can make sure that your organization doesn’t make the same critical mistake.
Crisis Communication: Balancing Consistency with Delivery
*The Crisis Response Penalty (CRP) is the needless reputational and financial impact of a crisis on a brand as a direct result of mismanagement.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.
Ed McDonough says
Melissa, as always, your observations about the communications was spot on. Unfortunately, IMO, this is not just a communications issue. All the nice,words won’t hide the fact that this is an ongoing issue at this store which means they need to either rethink the store layout to reduce these thefts, work with the landlord (if they don’t own the store) to reduce the risk of thefts or move to a safer location. This is one of those cases where communications is only part of the issue; operational changes also are called for.
Melissa Agnes says
I couldn’t agree more with you, Ed. As I say often, successful crisis and issue management requires simultaneous and effective ACTION and COMMUNICATION. You’re spot on. The brand needs to do / should be doing far more than providing training on communication. I simply chose to focus on this area for the purpose of making one important point in a short video.
Furthermore, the fact that they don’t provide issue management training to their frontline — a.k.a the brand’s most common and prevalent issue managers — speaks wonders to the brand’s entire level of crisis readiness, which is unfortunate.
Thank you for weighing in and adding this important point.