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When In Crisis: Speed Matters

Updated: Jun 4, 2019

Act Fast, Speak Clearly, Be Empathetic

When a crisis hits, speed matters. You’ll need to act quickly, but deliberately. It’s ok to issue a holding statement while your team assesses the crisis and develops its response. Keep it short and to the point.

Your initial statement should acknowledge the event and express empathy, but without taking blame prematurely. It should also include a promise that more information will be forthcoming as it is available.

Take action to protect your brand. This might include suspending advertising until the storm passes or removing corporate logos from lecterns and other areas where representatives might be speaking.

Your messaging should target the audience most directly affected by the crisis. In crafting your key messages, keep in mind these guidelines:

  • Inform. Determine what information is available (and that it's accurate) and get it out as quickly as possible, even if it is harmful or unflattering. It’s bad if your audience receives information that puts your company in a bad light; it’s much worse if they feel or discover that you are hiding something. Once the media is onto a story, the bad news will come out anyway. You have a much better chance of recovery if you are seen as pro-active and decisive in meeting the crisis head-on. Being open about providing all the information you have helps build a sense of trust, which can provide an important buffer against any potential negative backlash.

  • Be empathetic. Empathy goes a long way in a crisis. Acknowledge whatever harm has been done and take steps to address it. Expressing empathy for those who have been impacted can help diffuse an “us versus them” dynamic, along with the animosity that often goes with it.

  • Be brief and clear. Make sure your statements are direct and to the point. Avoid the use of jargon that your audience might not understand, or corporate-speak that might make you appear to be dissembling. Get to the heart of the matter quickly, and address the audience’s key concerns. Brevity also has this advantage: it’s much less likely to be edited, giving you more control over the message you want to convey.

Want to know more on how to react in a crisis? Contact PRxDigital if you have questions or would like to meet with us to discuss your needs at or 408-287-1700.

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