Crisis Communication: Transparency Equals Trust

There is nothing people appreciate more than honesty, sincerity and the truth. We see this in our everyday relationships with family, friends or coworkers. A relationship in which you withhold the truth, lie or don’t mean what you say is a relationship that won’t last. Why would we expect any different in our business relationships? Transparency is vital to the success of any company, especially in the event of a crisis.

Put these tips into practice to ensure that your audience is in the loop and on board for the long haul following a company crisis.

1. Be the first to acknowledge it. This gives you the opportunity to communicate the facts and the company’s key messages. You will gain respect from the public for taking the initiative to relay the proper information in a timely manner.

2. Develop a plan of action prior to a crisis and put it into practice immediately. Informing the public about your company’s plans to solve the problem is the best way to make them feel comforted and taken care of. Be honest, upfront and forthcoming with information.

3. Make the decision on who the message needs to come from within your company. Typically, it’s best for the message to come from the president, CEO or other top leadership. If a crisis occurred in a department where expertise is required to speak intelligently on a specific topic, then a chosen spokesperson may be the better solution, particularly if they will be in front of a camera.

4. Speaking of camera, consider creating a brief video of your message to be distributed to the public or to your stakeholders. One minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words, so make it count by producing an engaging and thoughtful segment on the crisis. Of course, time is of the essence during a crisis, so you’d have to have this planned out to be produced quickly and without errors. The spokesperson should be comfortable in front of a camera without a lot of rehearsal time.

5. Don’t make empty promises. Did your mother ever threaten punishment that she didn’t follow through with? The next time she threatened the same reaction to your behavior, did you actually believe it was going to happen? Not likely. It’s no different with a company-to-consumer relationship. If you don’t follow through, you let your audience down, and establish that you cannot be trusted in the future.

6. Address your consumers again once a crisis situation is stable and your plan of action led to solutions. Let them in on what components of your plan worked, what didn’t work and why. Then make adjustments to your plan for the future. This authenticity humanizes your brand.

These behaviors will be appreciated by your audience and bring your consumers closer to your brand. Running the other way and pretending the crisis didn’t happen will only anger your consumers and derail them from purchasing your products or services in the future. Transparency is as simple as “treat others as you want to be treated.”

If any of the above seem overwhelming or if at any point you are unsure about how and when to deliver your message during a time of crisis, be sure to reach out to a public relations agency or another communications expert within your industry. Trust us, crisis communications can lead to a bigger crisis if not done correctly in your haste. Our PR team at J.O. is here for you — anytime, anywhere. Call us at 817-335-0100 if you just aren’t sure what to do next.