Crisis communication

Mastering Crisis Communication in Business Turnarounds

What if saving a struggling business is not just about money, but also how well you talk? When companies face problems, being good at crisis talk is crucial. Turnaround experts like Lebogang Mpakati know that sharing information openly and quickly is key. This helps keep trust with people involved and keeps the business strong.

Tackling a crisis isn’t just about the money; it’s about handling the story. It’s vital to have someone who can share the company’s updates clearly and regularly. This keeps everyone informed and manages how people see the situation. After a crisis, it’s important to check how well you communicated. This helps you get better for next time, a must-do for UK PR and business rescue missions.

The new course, starting Monday 29 April 2024, delves into crisis talk in business turnarounds, led by Shane Allison. With his experience in big crises, Allison will cover key areas like planning crisis talks, dealing with the media, and keeping a good name. If you’re part of the Communication and Public Relations Australia (CPRA) or book for three or more from one place, you get a 20% discount, making it $1,750 excluding GST.

Good crisis communication is essential, not optional. It guides the storyline, reduces panic, and builds trust. This can change a likely failure into a big success for businesses.

The Significance of Crisis Communication in Business Turnarounds

Effective crisis communication is vital for managing stakeholder panic and guiding the story in a positive way during business crises. A detailed communication plan is key to being open while following legal rules and protecting the company’s reputation. This helps keep trust with everyone involved, which is necessary for success.

Managing how information spreads is crucial to stop rumours and wrong stories. It is important to share updates regularly to keep everyone informed and maintain honesty. Research by The Harris Poll for The Grossman Group shows how crucial good communication is in a crisis. It found that when companies communicate well in hard times, employees feel better about their leaders, more aligned with the company, and more engaged by four to six times. This was especially seen during difficult events like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The research also found that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impacted over half of the employees surveyed. This was nearly ten times what was expected. The most important parts of good crisis communication were found to be showing concern, empathy, and being clear. Adding to these, being timely, genuine, united, and reassuring are key for a successful response plan.

Notable examples include the 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse and the 2010 Toyota recall because of faults. Also, Volkswagen in 2015 and Kodak in 2012 had big challenges. Each case shows how crucial a strong communication plan is for dealing with crises.

Being open and straightforward when talking to people inside and outside the company during a crisis is vital. It helps bring back trust from investors and goodwill from the industry. A consistent message from the top can boost confidence and stop people from getting mixed messages. Checking how well communications are working and listening to feedback is also very important to make sure everyone feels supported during tough times.

Key Principles of Effective Crisis Management

Effective crisis management relies on several important principles. Leadership is crucial here. Senior leaders must guide their teams with confidence during tough times. Their actions make everyone feel more secure about handling the crisis.

Having a plan is vital. You can’t just make things up as you go in a crisis. A detailed plan for communication is needed. It should outline risks and clear steps to take. This makes sure everyone knows what to do next.

It’s also important for actions to be seen and felt. Steps taken must show stakeholders that the crisis is under control. Being open about what you’re doing to fix things builds trust.

Great communication is key, both inside and outside the company. It keeps workers motivated and calms their worries. Outside, it helps handle the media and keeps all messages consistent. Being real and understanding matters a lot. In fact, 94% of stakeholders want authenticity.

Lastly, caring for people is central. Showing empathy is something 72% of consumers say is key to keeping their loyalty. By focusing on people, businesses can protect their reputations and succeed in the long run.

Developing a Strategic Crisis Communication_LATID (2023a856e-ac32-4ad4-8163-554636d43de5) Plan

A strong crisis communication plan is key to protecting a company’s image during tough times. It should have clear rules for sharing news and talking to people who have a stake in the company, doing this always and in a good way. Though 84 percent of companies have a crisis plan, about two-thirds aren’t fully ready for trouble. This shows why it’s vital to have a solid and flexible strategy for communication.

Companies need to think about different emergency types, like money trouble, staff changes, or tech failures. Each type needs its own way of communicating. Take Southwest Airlines: their open and caring way of dealing with a tragic accident on a flight showed the power of good communication. But, Boeing’s silence on their 737 Max planes’ technical issues revealed the risks of not being open.

A good crisis plan aims for quick news sharing, making sure stakeholders feel secure, and stops the same problems from happening again. For example, KFC used humour and honesty to handle their chicken shortage, showing a clever communication strategy works. Keeping a brand’s good name during crises means making a thorough and adaptable plan is key.

Internal Communication: Fostering Transparency and Trust

Almost 80% of workers feel stressed because of poor communication at work. This can lead to less productivity, low morale, and less engagement among employees. That’s why it’s vital to promote effective communication during company changes.

Being clear and consistent in sharing information is key, especially during tough times. By keeping everyone updated, you cut down on uncertainty. This helps everyone feel more engaged and ready to work together for positive changes.

When things are unclear, it can make employees anxious or resistant to changes. An effective strategy for internal communication encourages talking openly. This means letting employees share worries, ask questions, and give feedback. Being open helps meet their emotional needs and gives them a sense of security.

It’s important to keep messages consistent and transparent, especially when things are changing. Communication should bring people together. Celebrating successes, even small ones, lifts morale. It also shows appreciation for what each person adds to the company’s achievements.

Showing understanding and emotional support is crucial when things are tough. It helps build a place where everyone trusts each other. Clear communication shows every team member they’re valued. This united approach is key in overcoming challenges and achieving success.

External Communication: Managing Perception and Expectations

Good external communication is key to keeping a positive business image when times are tough. Over the last 20 years, more companies have gotten better at talking to people outside the company during hard times. They work to get everyone on board with the recovery plan, promote working together, and share news that removes doubts and makes investors feel confident.

External communication

When things are delicate, talking to the outside world in the right way is critical. It helps keep the public image of the organisation looking good, even when money is tight. By being open, timely, and honest, businesses can ensure that everyone supports their efforts to get back on track.

It’s important to keep the same message on all communication platforms, like media relations, to avoid confusion and stay believable. Using a ‘One-Voice-Policy’ can help keep things steady during tough times. But, it can be hard to stay consistent, so it’s vital to keep checking and tweaking as needed.

Businesses should also use digital spaces because they reach people fast and far. Being active with the media makes the company’s story more likely to be seen in a good light. This prevents wrong information and grows trust with everyone involved.

In crisis situations, it’s crucial for organisations to understand what worries their stakeholders. They should show they care and keep everyone updated clearly to keep trust strong. Having conversations that go both ways, asking for feedback, and taking people’s ideas into account can lessen damage and stop future problems.

Reputation Management During Business Turnarounds

Managing reputation is key when businesses face tough times. It helps keep and improve the brand’s image. Dealing with bad news fast, fixing wrong info, and sticking to the same message are vital. They protect the company’s reputation.

Bill Morrow has shown the power of good reputation management. He led company revivals in five countries. He worked at big names like Vodafone Hutchison Australia and the National Broadband Network (NBN). Under him, NBN kept more workers than the average in telecoms. This shows good reputation management keeps workers happy.

Corporate affairs teams play a big role. They work with marketing to create new brand stories. This helps match what employees think with the company’s new direction. Examples include Vodafone Australia’s ‘Break Up’ campaign and Pacific Gas and Electric’s green efforts.

Investing in reputation management leads to more money made. Being open and delivering great service improves how customers see a company. Johnson & Johnson’s handling of the Tylenol crisis in 1982 is a classic example. So is Starbucks’ training to prevent racial bias.

After a crisis, it’s crucial to fix the brand’s image. Rebuilding trust is key. With clear communication and honesty, companies can get through tough times. They come out stronger and more trusted by the public.

Case Studies of Successful Crisis Communication

United Airlines is often mentioned when learning about crisis communication. The event where Dr David Dao got removed from Flight 3411 became widely known through video. This bad response hurt their image a lot. It shows that acting fast and being clear is key to handling a crisis well.

Crisis communication case studies

The Equifax data breach affected up to 143 million Americans’ personal information. After the breach, some top executives sold shares worth nearly $2 million. This action damaged their reputation greatly and led to legal issues. This teaches us that being open and quick to disclose information is crucial.

KFC faced a big problem when they ran out of chicken in many UK stores. They made a funny sorry advert, which helped ease customer unhappiness and gained their trust back. This shows that clever PR can change a crisis into a chance to make the brand stronger.

Target quickly dealt with a data breach by offering free credit checking to those affected. Their quick and open way of dealing with the issue kept their customers’ trust. This example is a reminder of the power of fast and considerstead lucid communications in crises.

Continuous Improvement and Post-Crisis Assessment

In crisis communication, it’s key to always get better and look back after a crisis. By doing a deep crisis evaluation, organizations can see what worked well and what didn’t. This helps them be ready for anything that comes next.

Teams like special forces or emergency groups often look back at their actions after a crisis. The U.S. Army reviews their reactions to learn and grow. They focus on finding ways to do better, not on blaming anyone.

During these reviews, it’s vital that everyone can talk about mistakes without worry. Understanding what went wrong and why helps improve future responses. Leaders must encourage this openness to ensure the team learns and grows together.

Having someone from outside the team help with these reviews can be really helpful. They make sure the feedback is useful and aims at making things better. Keeping these discussions private helps everyone be honest and open.

Tools like Crises Control help teams communicate better and be more prepared. They send out important info fast through texts, emails, and apps. This helps teams react quickly and reduces the crisis’s impact.

This platform also makes it easy to gather and look at data after an incident. It helps create detailed reports that show how well the team handled the crisis. This is great for meeting rules and making sure everything is documented.

With Crises Control, using its features easily even when under stress is possible. Knowing all the steps of crisis communication helps teams manage tough situations better. They become more confident and able to deal with whatever happens.


Crisis communication is very important for companies to survive tough times. It helps manage crises by keeping stakeholders informed and maintaining trust. Timely and clear information protects a company’s image and reduces negative effects.

During a crisis, companies face many problems, such as not having enough information and increased stress among employees. Having a strong crisis management plan is essential. It’s vital to have an updated plan, a dedicated team, and to practice regularly. This preparation is key to a successful recovery.

It’s also a good idea to prepare messages before a crisis hits and to use a special website for emergencies. This advice comes from top experts like the Corporate Leadership Council and Taylor and Kent. Such steps help make sure messages are delivered effectively. Training spokespersons is crucial to keep messages clear and avoid misunderstandings.

To sum up, excellent crisis communication is crucial for a company to bounce back from hard times. With good planning, thorough strategies, and strong training, companies can deal with challenges well. So, focusing on crisis communication is very important. It helps companies overcome difficulties and get back on their feet.

Written by
Scott Dylan
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Scott Dylan

Scott Dylan

Scott Dylan

Scott Dylan is the Co-founder of Inc & Co, a seasoned entrepreneur, investor, and business strategist renowned for his adeptness in turning around struggling companies and driving sustainable growth.

As the Co-Founder of Inc & Co, Scott has been instrumental in the acquisition and revitalization of various businesses across multiple industries, from digital marketing to logistics and retail. With a robust background that includes a mix of creative pursuits and legal studies, Scott brings a unique blend of creativity and strategic rigor to his ventures. Beyond his professional endeavors, he is deeply committed to philanthropy, with a special focus on mental health initiatives and community welfare.

Scott's insights and experiences inform his writings, which aim to inspire and guide other entrepreneurs and business leaders. His blog serves as a platform for sharing his expert strategies, lessons learned, and the latest trends affecting the business world.


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