I wrote last week about having communications ready for every crisis eventuality. The world’s most famous investor, Warren Buffett, said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Rushing out ill-considered statements is a sure way to ruin it.
One approach to keeping things on message and simple is the “Message House”. You can read about that here. It’s a technique for any situation, but it works in crisis communications too. It suggests asking:
- What’s the big picture?
- What’s in it for the audience?
- What is the most likely criticism?
- What do you want your audience to do?
I’ve seen this pinned on someone’s wall as a day-to-day guideline. It’s not a bad idea.
In the current situation, this could direct a typical crisis contingency message to be something like:
- We’ve got the following situation at the company
- Things are under control behind the scenes and your service will remain unaffected
- However, we’ve had to divert customer contact resources to core operations
- Please trust us to continue serving you, and help by only contacting us in emergencies
Many businesses get this sort of thing very wrong, when a methodical approach might be all that’s needed.