In the first of our three-part crisis comms series, account manager Janice Fitzgerald gave her top tips on getting your IC team crisis ready. But the work doesn’t stop there – with a team in place, it’s important to really think about the channels that can support them. In this second part of the series, Janice talks about how to choose your channels for crisis wisely.
Choose your crisis channels
In an era where large organisations often have multiple channels, it’s important to establish what channels are most appropriate for your crisis communications.
Depending on the nature of your crisis, this may vary for your day-to-day channels. Think about what can support your team in getting a message to staff quickly and easily. Often your audience’s location will drive your choices.
Face-to-face engagement – if highly sensitive, a more top-down approach utilising managers and personal engagement may work best for your organisation. For example, office-based staff who can easily be gathered together often benefit from face-to-face town hall type sessions using a “straight from the horse’s mouth” approach.
Remote-based workforce – for a remote-based or widely spread workforce, digital messaging including internal social media, email, SMS or messenger apps are often popular. Just be confident in your message, because once it is on screen, it can be shared both internally and externally very easily.
Offline staff – for employees who have no access to online or a phone while at work, getting a message to them is crucial and needs to be agreed well in advance. You may even need to consider channels that you wouldn’t normally use for day-to-day communications – for example, in some organisations a radio system may be available for emergencies.
Promote your crisis channels
Organisations shouldn’t be shy about the fact that they have a crisis comms plan in place. Employees need to know what a crisis could be, how they can expect to receive information and, above all, who to contact.
Simple ideas to support this include:
- Providing an overview of the crisis comms process in the new starter induction pack.
- Schedule pre-planned crisis process updates to the organisation using existing channels e.g. newsletter, magazine, functional face-to-face engagement.
- Give every employee access to the information they need, e.g. a dedicated area on the intranet, an employee crisis comms pack, crisis comms information printed on the back of their staff pass or even a corner in the office with all information readily available.
Seek feedback on your crisis channels
Following a crisis, it is vital to understand what was communicated well and what could have gone better.
Once the crisis is over, capture feedback from employees on the success of your comms and channels. Depending on the nature of your crisis, qualitative research in the form of focus groups often work best. However, a short survey can also support this.
Once this information is collated, arrange a lesson learnt session with the crisis team and review your process moving forward.
Look out for the final part in our crisis comms series, where Janice gives some guidance on establishing the best process to support your crisis team and drive your crisis channels.