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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn

Crisis Communications: You say it best, when you say nothing at all...

Depending on your age and music genre of choice, you might have heard a number of singers tell you this: "You say it best, when you say nothing at all...". And in some (not all!) crisis situations, it's great communications advice.

I've managed PR and communications for many crisis situations over the years. When the thing you'd hoped would never happen actually happens, it's very easy to get caught up in the moment. Fuelled by adrenaline, swept along by other operational activity, you might suddenly find that you are heading down a course which feels rushed, or not under control.

A sign which says "Don't Panic"

Obviously every incident is different. "Crisis" could mean cyber attack, lawsuit, allegations made about your organisation (or a member of staff), operational problem or a whole range of other things. The communications needs will be different depending on the context.

One thing rings true across them all. Having a plan is better than rushing in like a headless chicken. Why? Because undoing something you've done publicly is far harder than being slightly slow doing it in the first place. I cannot stress this enough: Get a professional communications expert to help you design a crisis communications plan now, before you need it.

But beyond that there is another critical factor. And it is one that those without extensive crisis management experience can struggle with. It's this: Sometimes the best thing you can say is nothing at all.

I know. Mad right?

Say you have been targeted by malicious and untrue accusations online. Having never had anything like this happen before, human instinct is to argue your innocence. To respond to every comment publicly. To contact all the platforms and authorities possible to get these statements about you taken down. Make a statement on your website which you share with the press.

But what if this only puts fuel on the fire? Lots of people who knew nothing about the claims now do, because you've increased their visibility. Your accuser has new material (in your denials) to make more statements about. Everything snowballs further...

What if you cut off the power supply, by refusing to engage? I'm not suggesting for a second that you shouldn't report criminal activity to the police, or to get legal advice if these actions are warranted. Do these things to protect yourself and your business. However this is very different to getting into every conversation online about the accusations, which is not only futile, it's draining.

Sometimes not responding is the best option. It might feel frustrating and unjust, but it allows today's news to be tomorrow's online chip papers. News moves on very quickly these days, and you'd be surprised quickly you can move on, rebuild your online presence, push all mention of untrue accusations out of earshot and go onto bigger and better things.

Don't be afraid to take no action, if taking no action is the best thing to do. To make sure what is best for you, get some expert help.

Image credit: Tonik, Unsplash.

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