For the last couple of weeks, I've been writing about the need for start-ups to develop a crisis communications plan and also the steps you should take to create your plan. While I'm on this topic, I wanted to dive into a bit more detail on what could be the most crucial past of your crisis communication plan: the message.
It's crucial that you should always communicate the right message, to the right people, at the right time. I've written about this before but this concept is even more critical, if that's possible, during a time of crisis. So what is different about creating the message in your time of crisis?
Basically, you need to build upon the messages you used before the crisis to specifically address the issue in a clear, credible and consistent way. All great attributes of your message at any time. However, in your time of crisis you also need to add the appropriate context to your message and that's where things are different.
Depending on the crisis, your message needs to show concern for those that have been affected and assurance that you will address the issue in a timely and satisfactory manner. As you can see, this is very different than your marketing message which is all about creating awareness.
As well, you need to ensure that the content is accurate during a time of crisis. Not that this isn't something you need to always do, but we all know the truth has been stretched from time-to-time in a marketing message. This cannot be the case during a time of crisis. You need to be accurate in what you communicate as further mistakes, which will be found out, can only make the crisis worse. In fact, using respected third parties to validate facts is very important.
Unlike your main marketing message which is about differentiation and value, your crisis message must be accurate, clear, credible, consistent and delivered within the appropriate context. This is not radically different than you message during normal times but the subtleties are important and you must be aware of them at all times.
Since you already have the groundwork in place for your main messages, you really have no excuse but to spend some time building your message for a potential crisis as we all know time is of the essence for you to respond when something bad happens. Are you prepared?