The New Rules of Crisis Communication & Why They Apply to You

Crisis communication is a fascinating subject – and there’s no shortage of current material to put under the microscope. Cricket Australia, banks, KFC, data breaches – you could spend weeks pulling this stuff apart.

During the week commencing 10th June 2018, Dr Neryl East had the opportunity to share a stage with some of the country’s leading minds at Mumbrella360 – Australia’s biggest media and marketing conference – presenting on the topic of ‘communicating when it really hits the fan’.

Universal head nods occurred amongst an audience of communicators and business leaders from all sectors when speakers touched on the key elements that now govern how any business or organisation must respond when a crisis cripples normal operations.

Some of the key points that stood out to Dr Neryl East, and a brief summary, are provided below. Read the full article here to understand the key points in detail!


  • Respond quickly and slowly

When a catastrophic incident or action hurls you into the headlines for all the wrong reasons, you can’t spend a day deliberating about what to say. The acceptable response rate has developed from the days of ‘Golden 24 Hours’, to the ‘Golden Hour’, to now reaching the age where an hour is considered a luxury. Your initial response should: say what’s happened (to the best of your knowledge), express empathy, say what’s happening right now, say what’s likely to happen next.


  • Communication happens in tandem with the operational response

People often confuse the communication response with the actual response to the crisis. Just because a disaster erupts on social or traditional media doesn’t mean the communications department is responsible for solving the problem. The organisation as a whole needs to own the crisis and take responsibility for addressing it and recovering from it. An effective crisis response starts from the inside. Identify the root of the problem and fix it fast – all the while, keeping the world updated on what you’re doing.


  • Crisis communication planning has changed

In the past, when we had a relatively limited number of communication channels, it was somewhat easier to predict and plan for the types of crises that might erupt. Today, the variables are endless. A rigid crisis communication plan is no longer effective. In its place, have rock-solid, agreed principles for how you will respond. For example:

  • Your business commits to communicating honestly and authentically at all times
  • You’ll issue your first response within 15 minutes followed by rolling updates
  • You will use plain, understandable language
  • You will act in the interests of those impacted by the crisis
  • You know up-front who your key spokespeople will be, and they are trained and ready


Continue reading the full article here.

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