During a crisis, communications need to be clear and succinct and inspire confidence in the listener, who may be employees, customers, constituents, vendors, shareholders, government regulators, etc. Communications also must be accurate and consistent. Contrary points of view need to be settled and the organization needs to speak with one voice before communications are sent in order not to confuse an already worried constituency. Communicating through social media is powerful. I alerted my “friends” on Facebook to wrongdoing in the Registrar’s Office during a voter registration drive and was contacted by three reporters within 1/2 hour of posting the issue. The results: a front page article in the local newspaper and an interview on WNPR. That can work to a company’s advantage…. or disadvantage in distributing a message to a constituency.
There’s no better example of communications disasters right now than our two political parties who think that daily finger-pointing is a message we hear and side with the finger pointer. What we hear very clearly is: an inability to lead, dysfunction, lack of results, self-serving behavior, and individuals who are putting themselves first instead of acting in the best interest of the country. (Boards of Directors are required by law to act in the best interest of the organization). Each individual doing the finger-pointing thinks they’re scoring points instead of adding to the overall static and impression of dysfunction. Imagine how other countries are viewing us right now as we’re reduced to a daily series of slingshots. It’s a valuable lesson for us all in messaging and communications. Our constituents would be no less disgusted with the company we serve if that’s how we were communicating to them in a crisis.