From Security Management (10/01/12) Wagley, John
Communicating quickly, honestly, compassionately, and without placing blame is the key to good crisis communications, experts say. The rise of social media means people will not wait to hear from the company during a crisis and will instead turn to outlets like Twitter that give instant real-time updates, which unfortunately can spread rumor, innuendo, and outright falsehoods, says Jane Jordan-Meier, founder of consultancy Jane Jordan & Associates. Companies must be prepared to respond quickly, and executives should meet with the appropriate employees to plan coordinated crisis communications. This should include a variety of channels such as telephone, email, blogs, Twitter, and other social media so that there are several channels to take up the slack should one fail, and it also helps to speak to stakeholders “by ways that they prefer,” says Jordan-Meier. A practice run is a good idea to make sure the plan can be followed as intended. Jonathan Bernstein of Bernstein Crisis Management says that clarity and honesty is essential, as any omissions, exaggerations, or understatements will be read simply as lies by the public. It is important to consult with attorneys before responding to the public, however there is a balance that must be struck so as not to say too little or appear to be hiding behind attorneys. When it comes to apologizing, some say it can be legally interpreted as an admission of guilt, but Jordan-Meier says that taking responsibility and saying “sorry” could actually avert lawsuits because people appreciate contrition. Further, failing to show compassion in communications can cause an audience to turn off and not hear the company’s message.
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Blayne Webb, Director, Barringtons