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Effective Communication in a Crisis

Some of the biggest fiascos occurring on the national stage and recurring in our individual lives can most likely be traced to ineffective communication. This happens most frequently when a crisis occurs. But ineffective communication can sometimes cause crises. Effective communication, especially during a crisis, requires patience, planning, preparation, and purpose. As lawyers, we often find ourselves “in the room where it happens” during a crisis. We've drafted a whitepaper to help you manage communication during such critical times.

Here are the highlights:

1. Convenient

The first to tell the story is the most remembered. The communication must be convenient – easy and timely – for the recipient.

2. Certain

Uncertainty is the most devastating attribute of a crisis. Being honest and genuine during a crisis is the best way to ensure that uncertainty does not grow in the minds of your stakeholders, both internal and external.

3. Consistent

Stakeholders expect consistency, and when there is a lack of consistency, they can become anxious and averse to your message. Be consistent with how, when, and where you communicate.

4. Complete

Waiting while you circle the wagons or form the perfect sound bite often leads to uncertainty in the minds of your stakeholders.

5. Clear

When an organization or individual releases a statement, it should be so clear that others cannot easily read it or form alternative opinions.

6. Concise

We must adjust our writing style to be effective communicators, especially when the coming generations aren’t even used to reading complete words in texts.

7. Credible

You can be honest in your response to a crisis, but without credibility, there is no assurance your audience will believe anything you are saying.

8. Compassionate

People want to feel as though you are in the trenches with them.

9. Conscientious

Communications will be weighed or measured by society’s standard of what is right.

10. Conscious

Be aware of what people are predisposed to believe. Be aware of the rumors. Be mindful of what people want to know.

A crisis communication plan can help avoid the “everyone running around like chickens with their heads cut off” experience when a crisis occurs.

A plan allows an organization to outline those potential crises that they can foresee, identify their stakeholders, outline the crisis response team formation procedure for when one occurs, and provide initial statements to buy some time while the organization determines what has happened or is happening.

While you are helping to manage the crisis and deal with the various legal issues which inevitably arise, we can help with the communications, either taking the lead or assisting specialists already in place. We’ve “been there, done that.” Let us know how we can help you.


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