By John Kananghinis & Alexander Corne
If you’re not in your bunker expecting the worst and eying the corporate cyanide capsule, then you should be communicating clearly, calmly and with authority to the various stakeholders in your business.
Executives need to communicate in two directions at once, and largely with the same message; to their directors or owners above, and to their direct reports, below.
Ideally this downward communication should stretch further than just direct reports, all the way through the business. It needs to be personal, credible and straight-forward. Now is not the time for corporate-speak babble.
Every single person in the business is worried about how they will sustain life and lifestyle. Employees in constant fear for their jobs do not function optimally.
Then there are the external suppliers and customers to consider. They are equally confused and worried but need to be similarly calmed, consoled and corralled.
The key to successful communication in a crisis is firstly to avoid the panic of the talking-heads and media tarts. The crisis may be global but your response must be local.
The tools to deliver crisis communication are, today, easy to employ. The variety of online captive and public platforms make getting in contact, even face-to-face, very easy. However, it is the appropriateness of the platform for the message and clarity of the message itself that are the important elements.
From team member briefings to new services and operating procedures for customer care, to investor and partner information, all need to be communicated cognisant of the appropriate channel, tone and necessary detail for each audience.
The coronavirus emergency is likely to be with us for some time, during which rules and resulting business responses will change. To remain of value, communications will need to be current. Crisis communication is not a set-and-forget proposition, nor does one-size-fit-all circumstances. Continual assessment of the situation and updating of messages will be necessary.
Devising and delivering such ongoing communication can stretch the resources of even the most sophisticated corporate communications and/or marketing team.
This is where expert external support can make the difference between a perception of ineffective response or one of a business that is dealing with the situation in a manner that supports customers, team members and partners. A business well-placed to quickly return to growth in the eventual recovery will have a distinct commercial advantage.
RMK+A has advised and supported numerous organisations in times of difficulty and is equipped to offer a suite of communication advice and implementation support during this challenging period.
We have devised clear, cost effective, packages of support ranging from core customer and team communications through to detailed investor, regulatory and media relations. A discussion with us could help your business to navigate a smoother passage through these turbulent times.