No one is ever fully prepared for a crisis, but rooting your company’s response in transparency helps mitigate panic and unwanted repercussions within your business. The principal is simple: honesty is the best policy.
Having clear and accurate communication during times of crisis, and as a general rule, can increase brand trust and allow you to accurately manage expectations with employees and clients. According to a recent study from SproutSocial, up to 85 percent of Americans are more likely to continue their loyalty to a brand during a crisis if the organization has a history of transparency. This means that whether or not we find ourselves in the middle of uncertainty, placing value on how we authentically communicate with businesses and consumers is key to our success.
Remember, It’s Not Business As Normal
The best way to connect with your audience is through facilitating honest interactions, but it’s impossible to effectively do so without presenting an accurate picture of the realities you face. Whether positive or negative, validating that your business will evolve because of outside factors shows that you are unafraid of tackling realities head-on in both your communication and decisions. By doing so, partners and clients will never doubt that you both understand the severity of a crisis and are taking the appropriate measures to counter any subsequent changes.
For specific tips on how to adapt your strategy, refer to our guide on crisis management for digital marketing.
Communicate Accurate Industry Projections
When you’re honest about your business, you’re always thinking ahead. Sharing how industry swings impact your bottom line—and talking about it frankly—helps your team develop content and communication that sets a precedent with clients and manages expectations and realities. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your business becomes an open book, but rather that you’re creating an honest, open-dialogue channel from business to client.
Consider Your Employees
Micho Spring, chair of Weber Shandwick’s Global Corporate Practice, shared in a recent interview that, “protecting a company’s image in the eyes of employees is equally important, if not more so, in today’s environment of employee activism and engagement. They are the prism for a company’s credibility among all stakeholders.” Understand that your communication doesn’t just affect your clients. How employees will advocate for your organization is directly related to the communication you share internally and externally.
Surround Yourself with Experts
Your content is only strengthened by supporting data and outside information. Staying in close contact with research organizations, specialists, or consultants on relevant subject matters is key to crafting honest and accurate content. Working in collaboration with these experts can also lend to new ideas or unexplored opportunities based on their background or knowledge.
You can’t be transparent if you’re actively hiding information. Cover-ups can have both short and long-term consequences that significantly damage the reputation of an organization. Unless necessary for legal action, focus on sharing entire truths, answering the hard questions and even admitting when you don’t have all the answers. Trust with an audience is its own form of social currency, and once lost, it is extremely difficult to get back.
Start Preparing Now
The best way to handle communication and content during a crisis is to be prepared beforehand. Having a plan in place that dictates your approach will improve your organization’s transition into a new method of communicating with partners and clients. Your crisis plan should include (but not be limited to):
- Guidelines for developing the narrative;
- Appropriate social channels for communication;
- Establishing employee roles and committees for execution;
- Enabling conversation-monitoring tools for better live data.
When you couple an existing plan with ongoing, honest conversation, you position your business to thrive in both times of growth and crisis. Transparency, regardless of circumstance, will always promote valuable dialogue that leads to further brand equity and engagement.