We’re all trying to come to terms with the ‘new normal’, and what that means for us, our families and our businesses. With a crisis, there is more reason to communicate (and communicate well) than at many other times. Our previous blog ran through the things you need to get a plan in place. This time we’ve got more tips to help you to get your crisis communications right.
A plan is just a plan if nothing happens. So, here goes.
Who’s in charge?
In the corporate world and in global crisis management there is a tried and tested structure which can be adopted by SMEs too. It works!
It is a 3-tier command:
- Gold – The ultimate decision-maker
- Silver – People directing how the plan is delivered
- Bronze – People with specific tasks to complete.
In a very small business, the Gold and Silver roles might be merged together. You might even have all three roles yourself.
It is easy to make mistakes if you try to do everything yourself. It is a truism that a problem shared is a problem halved. This is true for a lot of SMEs, particularly the smallest, micro-businesses. So, find someone to be a second opinion. That person needs to challenge your own assumptions and provide an alternative perspective. Your decisions will be stronger for surviving scrutiny. They can save you from making a bad decision which you later regret or waste resources correcting.
Have clear information which everyone in the business can refer to. You cannot say one thing to staff and something else to others. Social media and instant communication make that impossible.
Prepare to be flexible
You will get reactions. Questions will be asked. So, be ready to answer them.
Things can change quickly in a crisis like COVID-19. We’ve all seen how new information changes the situation, radically altering what you can do and how you can do it.
Listen to feedback from your team, monitor reliable sources of information and speak to others in a similar position to get an external viewpoint. But don’t slavishly follow others, they might be wrong. Do and say what’s right for your business and your stakeholders.
Structure, Review and Update
This won’t be a case of just communicating with your audiences only once. You need to keep people informed and up to date. It is time to establish a structure and process. A few actions can be hard-wired into your management:
- Gold and Silver Command needs to meet/speak frequently and make any changes necessary.
- Plan how often you are going to communicate – but keep this under review. You’ll probably want to speak to some people more often than others to update them.
- Stick to the plan.