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7 Essentials for Crisis Communications Success

Even with careful planning and execution of a public relations strategy, something can still go wrong. 

How a company or spokesperson communicates--the tone, timing and message--is directly tied to how the victim, stakeholders and the public will perceive you. Effective communication can help to preserve your company’s reputation after the crisis. 

The following are essentials to effective communication during a crisis:


Effective crisis communications is straight and to the point. Don’t try to hide facts or paint a picture differently from reality. Stick to the facts and to your messaging. 

2. Openness, accessibility and transparency

Running and hiding from the problem will not make it go away. It will only make you look worse. Spokespeople must be available and key stakeholders/media members should have access to them in some capacity. Show, don’t tell, what you are doing to fix the problem. 

3. Truthfulness

Don’t lie. It is the media’s job to find out the truth, and they are good at their jobs. 

4. Apology

If you have something to apologize for, say you’re sorry and mean it. A phony apology only adds another crisis to the situation. 

5. Responsiveness

Answers don’t need to be immediate. But they need to be timely. A simple response of, “We are aware of the situation and are currently investigating,” can pacify stakeholders while you work to resolve the issue. 

6. Engagement

Get ahead of a story by engaging key stakeholders on your terms. Don’t wait for them to come to you. This will help you control the terms of the interaction and show that you care about their concerns.

7. Clarification and correction

Mistakes happen in the course of a crisis. Keep them to a minimum with proper planning and messaging. If someone does misspeak or an incorrect fact is used, make a point to correct it publicly. Own the mistake and move on from there. 

These tips are from the NAA Affiliate Public Relations Toolkit


Operations Insights