6 Tips to master crisis communication
For a startup, navigating through a crisis can be an overwhelming task. When faced with issues such as senior staff departures, layoffs or bad fundraising news, it is essential to communicate with investors and employees in a way that can positively influence their perception of the company.
Even if the company is not media-facing, crisis communication can significantly impact its reputation. Therefore, the following tips can be helpful in preparing for a crisis, communicating transparently, and exhibiting empathetic and stable leadership.
The best practices for crisis communications have been compiled in collaboration with MVPR.
1 Plan ahead to avoid panic
Anticipating potential crises and identifying hypothetical spokespeople, messaging, and communication channels ahead of time can help you inform stakeholders early and give affected employees a fair warning. Having a clear plan in place can help you avoid the panic that can come with the unexpected.
2 Avoid announcing news affecting individuals such as layoffs on a group call
Offering 1-1 conversations with those affected and providing multiple channel options for follow-up conversations, such as HR, senior leaders, line managers, and anonymous channels can make a significant difference. Avoiding group calls can make employees feel more supported, heard, and valued during a time of uncertainty.
3 Use an honest and empathetic tone in your crisis messaging
Write with people in mind and avoid corporate jargon. Acknowledge your responsibilities, admit what you don’t know, and commit to updates if things are changing quickly. By being transparent and authentic, you can build trust and show that you are taking the situation seriously.
4 Proactively address concerns instead of waiting to be asked for information
Lay out your plan and potential impact on stakeholders, cover pre-emptive questions, and communicate through a variety of channels. By providing information proactively, you can demonstrate that you are taking the situation seriously and that you are committed to being transparent.
5 Communicate frequently to reduce anxiety for all involved
Share the same messages in different ways and channels over a few weeks. Consistent communication can help to reduce anxiety and provide clarity for all involved.
6 Avoid mixing messaging by celebrating successes while conducting layoffs
This demotivates employees and triggers bitterness with those being let go. Keeping messaging separate can help employees feel that their contributions are valued, even during a time of crisis.
Taking the time to prepare for a potential crisis can really save you a lot of strain in the long run. By planning ahead, communicating proactively, and demonstrating empathy and stability, you can navigate a crisis with confidence and minimize the impact on your reputation.