Some organizations are so focused on getting statements out to traditional news media and other external audiences that they forget about what is arguably their most important audience — their own employees.
Overlooking your own employees can waste time and cost you money because it is quite often employees who determine how fast and how fully your organization will recover from a crisis.
We know that rumors are the result of communication voids. If we don’t know what’s going on, we tend to come up with our own narratives. Communicating with your employees early and often can reduce rumors. Your best course: Establish your company as the go-to source for information early on or employees will find another source.
Want more reasons? Communicating with your employees in times of crisis can prevent an even bigger crisis from happening. After all, you don’t want to have a communication crisis on top of the operational crisis you’re already dealing with.
In many organizations, employees are the face of the brand to customers. The last thing you want is for your employees to say to your customers, “Heck, we don’t know what’s going on around here. No one tells us anything.”
Employees Can be Your Greatest Advocate
Employees can be great and credible advocates for your organization – but only if they have the right information.
Well-prepared organizations have templates and key messages developed for ALL of their key audiences, internal and external. They think through policies and procedures when things are calm so that they can respond quickly and effectively when they need to. They establish social media policies for their employees and have them vetted by corporate attorneys when things are calm. They build relationships and trust between the organization leaders and their employees.
When a crisis strikes, these organizations can respond quickly and effectively.
Consistent Messages are Key
Another key to effective crisis communication is consistency. Be sure you’re not telling employees one thing and telling external audiences another. Employees read and listen to external messages. And external audiences can easily become aware of internal messages. Message inconsistency between audiences can cause sink credibility for your organization.
In the Digital Age, when every employee has a smartphone and thus the ability to broadcast live video to the entire world, messages can get out quickly.
It’s been said that a plan is nothing but the planning process is everything. That’s certainly true with a crisis communication plan. A good crisis communication plan should have a robust employee communication component. If you are responsible for internal communications, then you are responsible for thinking through the process before a crisis strikes and bringing forth an action plan if you see areas that are lacking.
By doing so now, you can help take the crisis out of crisis communications and unleash one of your most powerful assets — your employees.