The Third "C" of Crisis Communications: Consistency
*Special thanks to Dr. Richard Rush, Director of Communications, City of Tuscaloosa, for his research and thoughts.
Communications from an organization or individual must always be consistent. Whether communicating in a crisis or just day-to-day, you must be consistent in how, when, and where you are communicating.
Be consistent in how you communicate.
All communications need to be consistent with one another in content, style, format and focus. Stakeholders expect consistency, and when there is a lack of consistency, they can become anxious and averse to your message.
Be consistent in when you communicate.
In a crisis, it might be beneficial to release information at relevant intervals. Once stakeholders or other recipients learn that they can depend on you consistently releasing information and up-to-date facts at certain times, they will begin to actively search for those communications. This will cut down on potential interruptions while you are communicating in a crisis.
In a crisis, stakeholders also need to know that they can depend on you to provide them information no later than when they need it or, otherwise, as soon as you have it. For example, if you call a press conference and have nothing to say, then the press may not be there when you do have important information to share. This consistency is not just important to outside entities, the media and other external stakeholders, but also to internal stakeholders.
Be consistent in where you communicate.
It is also beneficial to release information consistently on specific platforms. Stakeholders will know where to go when a crisis strikes to hear your side of the story rather than searching on other mediums that might not be communicating in your favor. Even if the delivery method used is eventually improved or changed, your intended recipients are much more likely to go along with the new delivery method because of this past consistency.