7 Tips to Stay Compliant During Crisis Communication

As the adage goes, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Or, at least, that’s the approach you need to take when preparing for potential company crises. You must ensure you’re doing your due diligence, legally and ethically. So, here’s our guide on how to stay compliant during crisis communication.

What is Crisis Communication?

Crisis communication informs affected parties, such as employees or the general public, when something goes wrong. An example would be informing shareholders when bad PR damages the company’s stock value. Another example would be using interactive voice response (IVR) to handle customer queries during a prolonged service outage.

Being able to stay compliant during crisis communication requires a nuanced approach. How you handle things will vary depending on the nature of a crisis.

On the one hand, staying compliant means being transparent and doing your due diligence. But on the other, crisis management is often a matter of framing the discussion and protecting your brand.

How to Plan for Crisis Communication

Effective crisis management relies on your ability to react quickly and methodically. These seven tips cover the essential steps that company leaders and compliance officers should remember.

Anticipate Potential Crises

The first step to planning a strategy for crisis communication is to consider what crises you might face. And, if this sounds like a task with massive scope, that’s because it is. 

Many business crises stem from internal workplace issues, such as scheduling disruptions, payroll problems, or toxic workplace cultures. But even internal conflicts can spill over into bad PR, like whistleblowing or strike action. And these days, many business crises revolve around accidental or malicious breaches in data security.

But life would be much simpler if these were the only things we had to worry about. As recent years have shown, we must prepare for international or global crises like pandemics, economic concerns, and geopolitical tensions. There are also natural disasters like wildfires, floods, and earthquakes.

You can’t think of everything. But, using the other tips on this list, you need to create action plans for as many scenarios as possible.

Establish a Crisis Management Team and Spokesperson

You must have a crisis management team to handle any surprise developments. This team should include senior leaders, key management personnel, HR compliance management, and even legal counsel.

And, of course, you should include people with specialist knowledge relevant to a given crisis. For example, cybersecurity analysts should deal with a data breach. If you want to stay compliant during crisis communication, then covering all of these bases is essential.

Choosing a spokesperson to represent your brand in this crisis is also important.They should be charismatic and engaging. But they must also have a solid grasp of the issues at play. It’s their job to help frame the issue and public perception of your business. 

Unify Your Messaging

When framing the discussion during crisis communication, you must present a united front. Conflicting statements from people in your organization are among the worst things that can happen. At best, it makes your brand look sloppy and uncoordinated. And, at worst, it makes it seem like you’re trying to hide something.

This is why an agile response is so vital in the face of a crisis. The sooner you get all your people working towards a joint resolution, the better. But remember, the need for transparency means you’ll need to follow through on any promises you make.

Take Advantage of Internal Communications Tools

You have a duty of care to employees. You must keep them in the loop to stay compliant during crisis communication. Luckily, there are plenty of options to achieve this. Sending employee alerts through your internal comm channels should be your first port of call.

You could even set up emergency alerts for employee devices. Let’s imagine a graphic design firm suffered a data breach. They could use software to manage iPads remotely to alert their entire design team to a potential issue.

Monitor the Situation and Notify Stakeholders

To stay compliant during crisis communication, you need to be transparent. And that means notifying affected parties about the situation. During the pandemic, for example, this meant notifying customers of reported COVID outbreaks. For a data breach, it would mean informing affected people about the theft of their personal information.

For large businesses, this can mean reaching out to vast numbers of people. This might mean using an 8×8 auto-dialer, SMS blasts, or mass emails to keep people updated. But stakeholders aren’t just customers. They’re employees, affiliates, and your shareholders, too. And each has different needs to be aware of.

Employees need support, as well as reassurance about job security. Meanwhile, affiliates and shareholders need to know your bottom line. Affiliates need to know you can still contribute to your partnership. And shareholders need to know their investments are safe.

Delegate Responsibilities for a Faster Response

A true crisis is too big for you and your team to handle alone, especially for international companies or organizations with many employees. To keep your responses agile, you need to be able to delegate.

For example, branches in different countries have experienced data breaches. If there’s a breach in your com au domains, you should empower people in your Australian branch to monitor the situation. Keep your team handling the top-level concerns, and trust your direct reports.

Conduct Post-Crisis Analysis

Data is your most valuable resource, doubly so when handling a crisis. Until something goes wrong, the effectiveness of your planning is entirely hypothetical. However, the resulting lessons can better prepare your organization for the future.

Reflect on what impact the crisis had on your business. And how effective your counter-measures turned out to be. You must also acknowledge times you failed to stay compliant during crisis communication.

All this will help refine your crisis planning in case of future disasters.

Planning Helps you Stay Compliant During Crisis Communication

When we make plans for crisis communication, it’s in the hope that we’ll never need them. Sadly, though, we never know what exactly is around the corner. 

When we fail to plan, crises can catch us unaware, and problems can arise. After all, not all compliance violations happen maliciously. Sometimes, businesses fail due diligence because they’re too busy racing around putting out literal fires.

So, it’s better to have emergency protocols set up. Just in case disaster strikes.

Lavanya Rathnam

Lavanya Rathnam is an experienced technology, finance, and compliance writer. She combines her keen understanding of regulatory frameworks and industry best practices with exemplary writing skills to communicate complex concepts of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) in clear and accessible language. Lavanya specializes in creating informative and engaging content that educates and empowers readers to make informed decisions. She also works with different companies in the Web 3.0, blockchain, fintech, and EV industries to assess their products’ compliance with evolving regulations and standards.

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