Crisis Communication: What to Say and How to Say It

Knowing what to say and how to say it in a crisis communication situation is just as important as the steps a company’s Chief Security Officer (CSO) takes to quell a crisis situation, according to a recent report on Open communication in a disaster is important, but on the other hand company spokespeople do not want to give out unnecessary information that could potentially damage brand image.

What to Say

A spokesperson should be armed with a “holding response” going into a crisis. This allows them to hold off in-depth questions and get through the initial questioning presented by panicked customers and journalists looking for a story. A simple, yet carefully thought-out response can go a long way toward reassuring stakeholders that your company is aware of the situation and it is being taken care of. While putting everyone’s mind at ease that the situation is under control, it also allows a CSO to prepare a more complete and informed response.

How to Say It

Another area of concern in crisis communication is how a CSO words their response. Even though empathy is hard to communicate over the Internet, make an attempt to reassure customers through e-mails, or better yet over the phone, explaining the situation and what the company intends to do about it. Expect some angry responses, and plan ahead of time what the company’s response will be. Try to remain up front and be especially open to their individual concerns.

When responding to the media, remember, though they may not be paying customers, they have an even farther reach through various media outlets they utilize. Being open and honest about the situation at hand and what the company plans to do about it and when will go a long way toward getting a favorable media response. Also, be proactive and issue the correct facts before someone else puts the wrong facts out there.

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