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What Do Internal Communications Have to do with Successful Crisis Management?

27 Jan

internal-communications-successful-crisis-managementLast week’s infographic on the 10 New Rules of Crisis Communications brought a lot of feedback and comments regarding rule #10:

Internal communications are key to today’s successful crisis management. Point Final.

Many of you agreed (I wanna say duh!), but also explained how it’s still something you struggle with internally; whether your struggles are with driving the point home with upper management, or actually implementing strong tactics into your corporate culture.

That said, I thought I’d provide you with a little help here today.

Why strong internal communications help achieve successful crisis management

The fact is that every member of your team has responsibilities in a crisis, no matter how big or small those responsibilities may be. Therefore, communicating with your internal team in a crisis is crucial. Providing them with first-hand and real-time details and information regarding the situation enables them to perform their roles to the best of their capabilities. It also allows them to feel as though they’re truly valued members of the team. This goes a long way in helping to prevent additional internal risks that can prove disastrous in a crisis. Risks such as:

  • Leaking information (whether intentionally or not)
  • Creating a hostile workplace (while everyone is already under loads of pressure and stress)
  • Unnecessary additional (or duplicate) work

Team work is essential when managing a crisis. HOWEVER, team work cannot be successfully achieved without:

  • Real-time and two-way communications
  • An open community where questions and team work are valued
  • Tools to facilitate the ease of internal communications (especially for large, global brands)

How can you enable strong internal communications throughout your organization?

  • Have some kind of internal communications system or platform in place, and make sure it includes these 6 important features
  • Work with senior management to incorporate a corporate culture that encourages open communication and efficient team work
  • Put your team through crisis simulations on a yearly basis in order to strengthen their communications, as well as their ability to work together efficiently in times of heightened stress

Read: 5 Benefits of Using Mobile Apps for your Internal Crisis Communications

Strong internal communications are crucial for any organization’s success. The benefits of a united team that communicates well together in real-time go far beyond the scope of successful crisis management – though it is a worth-while advantage all on its own.

2 Responses to “What Do Internal Communications Have to do with Successful Crisis Management?”

  1. Sean Williams January 27, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    Melissa – good summary post, and I'd just add that befriending the risk managers in one's organization is an essential task for the strategic internal communicator. There are many risks that we're either unaware of or poorly understand (if at all), and all of them have significant implications for internal comms. My friend and colleague @jamesgsavage wrote this post for my blog that illustrates the lack of confidence the Risk team has in us, even with regard to reputation risk, which rightly is in our wheelhouse. — Crisis is a certain state of being that typically does result in our involvement in the aftermath, when we should be more locked in, and way earlier — like at the planning meeting when risks and crises are first discussed in a strategic context. Thanks again for a good post.

    Sean Williams (@commammo)

    • melissaagnes February 5, 2014 at 9:40 am #

      Good point, Sean, and I have to agree.

      I read the article over on your blog and, in terms of reputation management, many organizations are now engaging Chief Reputation Managers (CRO) whose job it is to manage the reputation of the organization. This is a strategic move in today's digital and high-risk world.

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