6 things to keep in mind for effective communication during a crisis

Jonna Ekman


March 3, 2022

July 13, 2023

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The need for information in a crisis is basically endless. And now, much more than ever before, people turn to social media to find it. But how do we communicate in a time like this, without making mistakes? Here is what we have learned if you want to achieve effective communication during a crisis.

1. Identify your target audience and its needs

Knowing you are talking to and why is fundamental when it comes to all types of communication. But if you are to inform people about something – especially concerning a situation that people are anxious about and when there is a lot of misinformation going around – you have to be absolutely certain about this. It’s a big difference between sharing new opening hours with your customers and reaching out to as many people as possible with ways to support people in need.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Who are we talking to?
  • What do they need to know?

2. Know your role

In general, companies usually have a lot of flexibility when it comes to the topics they can talk about. Even if a topic isn't about your core activities, if your audience finds it interesting it's usually okay. But in times of crisis, there must be firm boundaries in place. This is the time to only talk about subjects that are within one’s expertise. Otherwise, it might cause confusion, error and it could even harm people. Let the experts be the experts. 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What is our role in this situation? Is it truly our place to calm people down? Or caution them? (The answer is usually “No, our role is to inform them, and only about our business.”)
  • Are we experts in this field? (If you are not, then leave it to the experts.)
  • Is this subject really about us and our business?
  •  Why are we doing this?

3. Take your content seriously

Video is usually a pretty playful format. But not now. On the contrary, it’s more important than ever to be as clear and concise as possible and to do the necessary research. If you have one minute; make sure that you take advantage of every single second. And avoid being too emotional. Although the video format is great for establishing a personal connection with your viewer, it’s hard to remain informative when emotions take hold of us.

Things to consider:

  • Do the work: do careful research and express yourself efficiently.
  • It’s ok to have a personal approach but remember to put your feelings aside when making an informative video. 

4. Be extremely clear

In this situation, you can be excessively clear in your videos. You can be clear about what you do know and also about what you don’t know. And make sure to include your sources and make your references clearer and more accessible than ever before. Consider adding a note like “this is official information” or “the advice comes from X”.

Things to consider:

  • Don’t spread any rumors. If you have to share information that you are not 100% sure about, make it very clear (write something like “we are posting updates on an ongoing basis”).
  • Proper references are more important than ever.

5. Create new material and delete outdated posts

When the information is constantly changing, your communication must do so too. This is the time to create new videos continuously and – which is an unusual recommendation in the realm of social media – make sure to delete old videos. Of course, it hurts when you have to remove a video with 100,000 views, but you really must make sure that you are not holding on to videos that provide false, outdated information.

Things to consider:

  • Create new content as soon as the situation/information changes.
  • Use time markers, like “this decision was made on Sunday afternoon” or “the current information suggests”. Why not use time markers at the beginning of the video for clarity?
  •  Remove old videos!

6. Sharing is caring

In a crisis, you can ask people to share your video content – more explicitly than you normally would. People are much more inclined to share information that they consider important for others. It’s also very important to share others’ information, especially information outside of your expertise that would be useful for your audience.

Things to consider:

  • Have the courage to ask people to share, both in the video and in your post
  • Tell others if you have done great things and share it
  • If you see others do great things: share, or ask if you may use parts of it
  • When you want to provide information outside of your expertise: share from the experts!

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