What is crisis communications?
May 4, 2023

Crisis communications is essentially the process of communicating with stakeholders during a time of significant and unexpected disruption. At Communicate Media, we provide crisis communications training courses for a wide range of organisations, including PR companies, who want to be able to advise their clients should those clients suffer a crisis.

This crisis could be caused by a range of events, including natural disasters, cyberattacks, data breaches, product recalls, accusations of bullying or sexual harassment, as well as problems with a company’s supply chain or manufacturing process. People often ask: “What does crisis communications mean?” Well, the goal of crisis communication is to minimise the negative impact of the crisis and to protect the reputation of the organisation.

Although crisis communications training is something that every well-run organisation now invests in, the number of large, well-known and respected companies and other institutions that see their reputations ruined because of a misstep continues. Additionally, with the growth of cyberattacks, concerns about bullying and sexual harassment, a greater focus on supply chains, more active campaigners and increasingly vocal consumers, the risks of a crisis hitting your organisation and the need to handle it well have never been greater. And it’s not just reputation – a crisis will also probably hit your sales, staff morale and borrowing costs.

What is crisis communications training?

Here’s a simple definition: crisis communications training involves ensuring that key spokespeople for your organisation are prepared to handle media interviews and deliver statements to the media and other audiences in a way that sounds both competent and compassionate. Our crisis communications workshops can also train you to handle crisis media enquiries if you’re working in press offices or an in-house communications department.

Effective crisis communication requires a well-planned strategy that includes clear and concise messaging, prompt communication, and transparency. The strategy should also consider the potential impact of the crisis on all stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, and the public. We help the participants in our crisis communications training courses develop their strategies and guide them on how to word that all-important crisis statement.

You’ll need to know the messages to put across but also the choice of words and style and tone that will emphasise that you’re taking action and that, as an organisation, you’re taking control of the situation and, very importantly, that you care about those affected.

Where can I get crisis communications training?

The first step in crisis communications is to establish a crisis management team, which should include key stakeholders from across the organisation.  This team will be responsible for developing and implementing the crisis communication strategy. The team should also establish clear roles and responsibilities, including who will be the primary spokesperson for the organisation. We help our crisis communications clients prepare these teams and strategies so that they can answer the question: “What is crisis communications?” if colleagues within the business ask about it.

Once the crisis management team has been established, the next step is to identify and assess the crisis. This involves gathering information about the nature and extent of the crisis, as well as the potential impact on stakeholders. It is important to gather as much information as possible and to communicate regularly with stakeholders to keep them informed.

The crisis communication strategy should include a plan for communicating with stakeholders, including the media, employees, customers, and suppliers. The messaging should be clear, concise, and consistent and should address the concerns of each stakeholder group. It’s important that you’re honest and transparent about the situation and that you provide regular updates.

Here we explore 5 barriers to effective communication.

Why is crisis communication important?

The stakes are incredibly high here. We used to talk about the “golden hour” in crisis communications; in other words, organisations had about one hour to take the initiative and to put their crisis communications strategy into effect so that they were leading events rather than running to keep up as they found themselves on the back foot. Today all of this is true – except that that 60-minute time scale has now shrunk to about 15 minutes. Again, in our crisis media training courses, we advise on how to put all of this into practice.

Here are 5 things you should do when a crisis looks like it’s about to erupt. 

During a crisis, monitoring social media and other channels for feedback and responding promptly to any concerns or questions is essential. This can help to mitigate the negative impact of the crisis and to maintain trust with stakeholders. Our crisis communications workshops are highly practical and results-orientated, and we include recommendations on this type of monitoring as part of the course. If you’re wondering: “What is crisis communications?” we can certainly help you here.

Finally, it is vital to conduct a post-crisis review to assess the effectiveness of the crisis communications activity. We regularly review organisations’ crisis communication strategies on their behalf and make recommendations. After you’ve done one of our crisis communications courses, we’ll send you a full report on each course participant, including personalised recommendations, a report on the course and the group as a whole with tips and advice, plus copies of all broadcast interviews.

Crisis Communications Training

If you want to ensure you’re well placed to handle the media and other stakeholders in a crisis situation, then come and talk to us. We’re flexible and cost-effective, and we can create a course bespoke to your exact needs.

Find out more about our crisis communications courses here.

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