Crisis communication is more typically associated with public relations and the need for organisations to repair damaged images after a crisis or disaster. Some view crisis as a turning point which demonstrates the organisation's commitment to responsible behaviour and to outline the steps being taken to eliminate the problem.
There are 3 crisis management route to apply for the “what if crisis happens?” question. First one is proactive crisis management. It includes foreseeing the possible crisis situations and making calculations. In short, preventing the crisis before it happens. Second one is reactive crisis management which includes minimizing the damages and focuses on healing process. Third one is; interactive crisis management which is about looking after the new situations of the company besides overcoming the crisis.
There are 5 strategies for company to adopt itself, when to overlook how the messages should be given in crisis management, after determining the route in crisis management process. Ignoring Strategy is the strategy which intends to clear away the crisis in an aggressive way, ongoing with “There is no crisis!” shouts, and utters “why there is no crisis” explanations. Distant Strategy degrades the responsibilities of company through denying forgiveness, intention and will, and aims to be proven innocent and forgiven about crisis. Silky Strategy focuses on gaining approval of others through gaining acceleration during crisis attempts. Mortification Strategy offers compensation to victims, tries to create a total forgiveness and acceptance. And Painful Strategy aims to position the company as a victim thus gains sympathy in public.
When we overlook to crisis management process in Turkey, Danino, which companied with Ayşe Özgün, is one of the most successful companies through their reactive crisis management using the silky strategy. They positioned Ayşe Özgün as their opinion leader, who could easily gain self-confidence of mothers, and they broke down the barriers. Nowadays lots of FMCG companies gains public trust by using silky strategy during GDO crisis.
Within the years, with the explosion of social media, crisis communication steps’ requirements have evolved. Everything from social networking websites, to blogs, to broadcast text messaging – has changed the way in which anyone involved in risk communications must look at overall communication plans. In the pre-crisis phase new technologies can be used for monitoring and issues management tools. The researchers also suggested registering all possible domain names, including ones with negative connotations to maintain control; registering with an online media monitoring service; creating a hidden or 'dark' website that can be used externally in case of a crisis; and drafting guidelines for online rumors. The researchers suggested that launching a blog in response to a crisis could be an effective crisis management tool. In the crisis phase, using the internet as a third-party information site such as a blog; creating interactive tools such as mini-surveys to understand stakeholders' perceptions; using chat tools to foster dialogues; and having CEOs personally address the stakeholders. Social media can also be used as a way to gather and communicate information. In the post-crisis phase, defining online strategies and tactics to re-build your company's reputation; continue tracking and monitoring blogs, online media; and sending an online thank-you note could be the helping activations.
Nine Best Practices of Crisis Communication
1. Process Approaches and Policy Development
Communication should not merely be involved in communicating decisions about risk and crisis after they have been made. Rather, risk and crisis communication is most effective when it is part of the decision process itself. This approach is consistent with larger debate in the public relations literature. Specifically, a number of authors have suggested that public relations and issue management should be viewed as managerial and decision processes as opposed to simply staff implementation functions.
2. Pre-Event Planning
Significant case-based evidence exists, for example, that it is essential to conduct risk analysis and
assessment for the management of risk and the prevention of crisis.
A number of crisis communication planning templates are available. These models generally outline what should be included in a plan and how the planning process should progress.
3. Partnerships with the Public
One of the impediments to a dialogic approach to crisis communication is the myth that the public will panic if it has accurate information about a crisis. This myth is not supported by the available research, and, in fact, there is some reason to believe that withholding information from the public decreases the probability that it will respond appropriately.
4. Listen to the Public’s Concerns and Understand the Audience
A number of investigations have indicated that establishing positive relationships and a reservoir of goodwill before an event is critical to the successful management of a crisis. Ongoing interaction with the public is necessary to achieve this credibility. In fact, lack of credibility may significantly enhance the probability of harm. Whether accurate or not, the public’s perception is its reality. If the public believes a risk exists, it can be expected to act according to that belief. If the public believes that a crisis is severe, it is also important to acknowledge this belief and respond accordingly.
5. Honesty, Candor, and Openness
Honesty, in its most fundamental sense, is not lying. Candor refers to communicating the entire truth as it is known, even when the truth may reflect negatively on the agency or organization. A candid assessment might also include worse-case scenarios and fear about how bad the crisis might become. Openness in crisis communication refers to a kind of accessibility and immediacy that goes
beyond even a candid response. While few emergency managers would question the need to be honest, candor and openness are difficult to achieve in the high-uncertainty context of a crisis.
6. Collaborate and Coordinate with Credible Sources
Developing a pre-crisis network is a very effective way of coordinating and collaborating with other credible sources. To maintain effective networks, crisis planners and communicators should continuously seek to validate sources, choose subject-area experts, and develop relationships with stakeholders at all levels. Coordinating messages enhances the probability of consistent messages and may reduce the confusion the public experiences. Consistency of message is one important benchmark of effective crisis communication.
7. Meet the Needs of the Media and Remain Accessible
Effective use of the media to reach the general public requires accessibility. Scientists sometimes view the public as uninformed and irrational in its understanding of risk and, as a consequence, may believe communicating with the public is counter-productive. Some may even view the media as part of the problem. There is also a natural tendency to ‘‘circle the wagons’’ or ‘‘batten down the hatches’’ during crisis. Maintaining a dialogic stance, free flow of information, and effective communication requires maintaining openness and accessibility.
8. Communicate with Compassion, Concern, and Empathy
If the public sees an expression of genuine concern and empathy, it has more faith that the actions being undertaken or recommended are appropriate and legitimate. In other words, an expression of concern and empathy reframes both the crisis-related message and actions. Some crisis spokespersons may be reluctant, however, to frame their statements with expressions of concern and empathy for fear of appearing unprofessional. These efforts to maintain professionalism are often perceived by the public to be cold and uncaring.
9. Accept Uncertainty and Ambiguity
A best practice of crisis communication, then, is to acknowledge the uncertainty inherent in the situation with statements such as, ‘‘The situation is fluid,’’ and, ‘‘We do not yet have all the facts.’’ This form of strategic ambiguity allows the communicator to refine the message as more information becomes available and avoids statements that are likely to be shown as inaccurate as more information becomes available. Acknowledging uncertainty should not be used as a strategy, however, to avoid disclosing uncomfortable information or closing off further communication.