Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why crisis communications should be based on TRUST

We're in a brand new era in terms of crisis communications planning. The need for speed, rapid positioning and response has changed the "game" forever. Social networks are the driving force behind this reality. 

For professionals, the challenge is real. The need for monitoring is constant, from the moment the "story" breaks until minutes, hours and days later when online conversations shape how your response will be perceived by the public, 

In a way, the very role of the crisis communicator has been transformed. Crisis planners are "facilitators" more than "spin doctors" ...  Our plans need to be SOCIAL ... take into account how the public drives the agenda. 

But to reach the public, to help "facilitate" how perception is shaped in a favourable manner, we must based our planning on TRUST.  In this case, trust stands for: 

  • Timeliness: you need to be able to respond to an incident within minutes ... very, very soon after the outset. You need the ability to monitor conversations and discern if the opinions are being shaped in a positive light for your organization.
  • Responsive: use the right tools, the right platforms to convey your point of view depending on the platform where comments are shaping stakeholder/public opinion. Use the right tool to reach the right audience. Have the right messaging available to address the incident (see message mapping) 
  • Unhindered: your team must have the authority to start responding right away. Have you delegated authority to get things moving? Do you have to get things approved (and wait long minutes/hours) before you can react? 
  • Systemic: a crisis communications frame of mind must be implemented throughout your organization. Anyone can become (either on purpose or by accident) the "face" of your response. Ensure everyone knows the basic rules/procedures in your plan. 
  • Targeted: any crisis communications plan that still identifies legacy media as the primary audience is bound to fail. This simply move too fast to rely on your relationships with reporters. As stated above, the crowd and their conversations, now shape the story. Ensure you have the ability to be heard on the same platforms where the crowd is engaging and debating. Your message needs to be able to compete (era of message control is over ...) 
In the end, it's simple. To be credible you first need to be heard and believed. You need to talk to the right people and appear to be (not just be) responsive to their needs. When you've done all that ...then, perhaps, you have a chance to be TRUSTed ... 

That sums it up ... Should we all go back to school ? 

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