Why your communication response in a crisis determines your capacity to survive, and thrive beyond it

Office workers

How honest should business owners be with their clients, customers, shareholders, board members and contractors about their struggles in this time of crisis?

This question was posed to several business leaders in a recent article by SmartCompany, who provided insights ranging from “over-communicating” and keeping the message “simple, honest and sincere”.

Icon Reputation’s Director, Mark Forbes, also shared his unique perspective as a former editor-in-chief and corporate communications specialist.

“How every business communicates through a crisis, internally and externally, has a critical impact on reputation, goodwill, the capacity to survive a crisis, and even thrive beyond it,” said Mark.

“Messaging should be clear, consistent, factual and honest. This doesn’t mean airing your deepest, darkest fears. It does mean being upfront about the issues and reassuring stakeholders that you are working through them.

“Identify your core messages. These should be consistent across communication platforms and audiences. Any inconsistencies are liable to be exposed and undermine confidence.

“Additional messaging should be tailored for each audience. Staff will want to know if their jobs are safe, shareholders that their investment is secure, clients and customers if you will continue to trade.

“This is an opportunity to explain and engage. Sacrifices may be needed and burdens can be shared.”

Mark concluded by emphasising the importance of a two-way dialogue when communicating to stakeholders. “Finally, the critical element of crisis comms is they are not one-way. Ensure you listen to how your audiences respond, you may pick up some great survival tips along the way.”

You can read the full article on SmartCompany.

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