The fascinating work domain of crisis communication is dedicated to the complex yet crucial interactions between an organisation and its internal and external stakeholders. Seeing stakeholders as groups of people affected by the situation in different ways guides crisis teams into correctly identifying and addressing stakeholders’ needs. Before, during and after a crisis, the people responsible for crisis communication need to rise to the challenge of establishing these important real-time interactions, even when little or no verified information is available.
Continuous effort needs to be put into bridging the gap between perception and reality. Through external perception and sentiment analysis, PM’s approach allows crisis teams to formulate – in a minimum of time – data-driven strategic communication advice on policy level. Subsequently, communication teams are able to take the necessary initiatives to translate the strategic outlines defined on policy level to specific communication actions. Using the various means of communication at their disposal the next big challenge is to show a genuine empathic attitude towards the people affected who are typically in a state of uncertainty and stress.
Our advisers regularly develop and perform numerous crisis communication activities (such as basic or tailor-made training, exercises and lectures). More specifically, some of the themes that we love to cover are:
- Execution of crisis communication strategies by various specific disciplines within the crisis communication team performing specific tasks, including spokespeople, editors, telephone operators, web care operators, etc.
- Media training where we prepare team members to face and handle the press in case of an incident.
- External perception and sentiment analysis, a “new kid on the block”. This communication activity is considered by PM as an essential and permanent communication function in the crisis team. Such analysis is to be performed to formulate data-driven advice as opposed to the traditional method of developing the communication strategy, its actions and content purely on “gut feeling”.
- Detecting potential crises at an early stage with the help of early warning systems and monitoring tools.
- Innovative online tools and other resources related to the various disciplines and tasks within the crisis communication team.
- Proactive early initiation of the crisis communication process, even when no or very little verified information is available yet. This is also known as the “reflex communication” phase.
- Proactively breaking the news about a negative situation first, also known as Stealing Thunder.
Considered by our team one of our milestones in the crisis communication domain, PM has co-developed the Crisis Communication Work Process which we introduced in Belgium on the highest governmental level.
Our team has been actively involved in many crisis situations. PM makes available its long-time practical experience and academic knowledge. We continuously apply the latest theoretical insights and give back insights through academic research. During acute crisis situations we offer our advice and support as a stand-by service to enable optimal crisis communication. We also provide crisis communication training, exercises and coaching to companies, public organisations, regulators, governments and authorities.
In the future, we believe the field of crisis communication will become even more complex due to the ever-increasing presence of new media channels and formats. Furthermore, the growing expectations of stakeholders to receive comprehensive information and individual answers faster than ever before will raise the bar for crisis communicators. This also means that communication back offices will need to organise and prepare themselves even better by developing well-structured and high tempo workflows.