The Basics of Crisis Communication

In this article..

The central points of crisis communication are simple to state but hard to master.

  • Know your intended audience and what they need to hear from you.
  • Communicate what happened, why it happened, and what you will do to remediate the harm and prevent it from happening again.
  • Communicate knowledgeably, honestly, and clearly.
  • Don’t be afraid to apologize, and do so from the heart, without equivocation or self-serving statements.
  • Communicate with a few key message points that are clear and supportable.

A crisis can be as much about perception as reality—indeed, in a crisis perception can become reality. The Indian politician Jawaharlal Nehru said that “every little thing counts in a crisis.” The tone and phrasing of your communications is—in the grand scheme of things—a little thing. In a crisis however, it counts.

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