We are living in a state of permacrisis, which Collins dictionary defines as “an extended period of instability and insecurity, especially one resulting from a series of catastrophic events.” The dictionary even chose “permacrisis” as its word of the year for 2022.
In the last few years, we have experienced multiple overlapping crises: the post Covid pandemic; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its economic and political fallout; inflation; extreme and violent weather; disinformation; immigration issues; widespread social division; human trafficking; the erosion of trust in law enforcement; and on and on.
What businesses have learned through this crisis cycle is the criticality of clear, direct communication. For billions of people around the world, work routines have shifted from in-office to hybrid and contact between employer and employee is mostly virtual. Staff are increasingly isolated, and written words carry nuances that their originators may have never meant.
Here are CAI’s recommendations for internal and external communications – who should deliver them, to whom, why, when, where, how, and how much:
Internal communications are directed towards employees and insiders. Effective internal communications incorporate multiple tools, such as:
Instant messaging programs such as Slack
Posters and FAQs in break rooms, hallways, entrances, kitchens, etc.
When developing internal communications, it is best to:
Provide information in a timely and concise manner. It’s key to be transparent about what proactive steps the company has taken and what it plans to do.
At a high level, describe the impact to the organization. Provide facts and data to support the situation and correct any misinformation that may have been reported.
If applicable, cite guidelines or information from government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, Overseas Security Advisory Council, the Food and Drug Administration, FEMA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Communicate any changes in procedures in company travel, operations, supply chains, and services.
Provide ways for employees to report or provide feedback to the company, such as by web forms, tip lines, or staff meetings.
Provide steps internal stakeholders can take to reduce or eliminate risks. This may include ways to identify signs associated with an incident, best practices, hygiene precautions, safety tips, etc.
With Covid cases on the rise, examples included wearing appropriate masks, limiting the number of occupants in an elevator, maintaining social distance, staggering work hours, and using hand sanitizer frequently.
External communications target non-staff, such as customers, clients, visitors, suppliers, contractors, shareholders, and perhaps local communities, the government, and the media. Communications to external stakeholders are most effective when they are short and provide simple, key messages. Communication may take place via a statement posted on the organization’s website or on social media. In larger or more pressing situations, it might entail a formal press release or even a live press conference or face to face meeting with the media, a regulator, a public interest group, or some other stakeholder organization.
When developing external communications, it is best to:
Communicate in a timely manner and acknowledge the situation. Denying or minimizing the situation almost always backfires.
Provide facts that limit specific details (i.e., employee names, date/time, specific locations such as addresses, campuses, building numbers, etc.) to whatever is necessary. Avoid violating privacy or divulging sensitive information or tradecraft.
Cite any government agencies and guidelines that your organization is following. For example, hotels who may be accused of human trafficking might note their compliance with the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism.
Provide a single point of contact, ideally, and an email address for additional information.
Although this is not a complete list, it represents a solid foundation to build from when creating communications during a significant incident.
Ensuring that a solid communication plan is in place before a crisis occurs is what makes the difference in successful maneuvering through a crisis. If your current program does not include a communication plan or you’re looking to refresh you communication strategy, the team at CAI is here to help!
// COOKE & ASSOCIATES, INC.
At Cooke & Associates, Inc., we’re changing the image of protective services.
Cooke & Associates Inc. (CAI) is a global, world-class risk-mitigation and security solutions provider, dedicated to keeping our clients and their families safe and secure. With decades of cumulative security, intelligence, violence-prevention, investigative, law enforcement, and risk-mitigation experience, CAI offers best-in-class solutions that exceed industry standards and client expectations.
We pride ourselves on a profound understanding of the wants and needs of the most discerning clients and cultivate relationships with singular attention. CAI’s services allow our highly selective clientele the ultimate privacy and freedom without sacrificing robust security. We excel in relationships, logistics and the finer details of operations, ensuring lifestyle and culture are perfectly balanced with safety and security. Led by a dedicated team of professionals with extensive international experience, CAI provides its diverse clientele with a broad range of services and expertise in more than 50 countries.
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