*Special thanks to Dr. Richard Rush, Director of Communications, City of Tuscaloosa, for his research and thoughts.
The communication must be convenient – easy and timely – for the recipient.
They shouldn’t go looking for it. They will read or hear whatever is easiest to digest – and that is what they will believe. Making a communication convenient applies to non-crises too. It should be easy for the intended recipient to understand what you are trying to communicate, and they should receive the communication no later than when they expect it.
Acting in a timely manner is one of the most important strategies for effectively communicating during any crisis. Crisis communication has always demanded that an organization or individual use the best crafted message delivered by the most effective method to the most targeted audience.
The speed at which this message must be delivered increases every day. The industry standard is to have a response to the news media, social media publics, internal and external publics, and other stakeholders, within the first hour of becoming aware of the crisis event.
The communication must be in a format and via a method that is easy each of the intended audiences to receive, which takes time. Therefore, it is important to prepare ahead of time.
The first to tell is the most remembered
The first to tell the story is the one that sets the framework. This is a major reason for preparing for potential crises before they occur. The time to begin writing talking points and press releases is not in the middle of a crisis. Neglecting to prepare is a sure-fire way to ensure that you are not telling the story, but are reacting to stories being told by others. Effective crisis communication allows pre-prepared information to be at the fingertips of those who need it at a moment’s notice.