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Striking the Right Tone Amid a Crisis

Credit: Jason Leung, Unsplash

During a crisis, your business may be looking for a life raft in the middle of a storm. Even if you have a crisis plan, how do you manage the sensitivities and convey the right tone when all is said and done? Or even, in the midst of a crisis? It can be a precarious and difficult time, but any business can weather the harshest of storms with proper preparation.

The Firm’s Solveig Raftery (President and CEO), Jasen Woehrle (Senior Vice President) and Jesse Scott (Account Director) have helped many businesses navigate crises throughout the years and have some helpful thoughts for helping messages stick.

Let’s dive in.

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst

When crisis strikes, it may feel as if the world is ending. The situation is moving quckly, things are constantly changing and you may find yourself in the darkness. However, with proper preparation, you can get your business on the right foot from the get-go.

“This is when your in-house PR and legal counsel, teamed with your PR agency partner can help,” said Solveig. “They are rays of light during this time.”

Having an experienced PR team can make or break your business during a crisis. They will be able to help navigate through any challenge, and provide any sort of counsel if an unexpected turn arises.

An excellent way to stay ahead of the game is hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

“A crisis plan is vital for any business and is immensely helpful in getting a response well on its way,” said Jesse. “Your plan has to be flexible and anyone managing a crisis has to be fully in-the-know on the landscape that affects it.”

Staying informed of your situation and relying on your team in times of need are key for suriving any crisis. A comprehensive crisis plan can help your team communicate with each other and stay on the same page. Ths includes communicating with your audience and stakeholders as well.

Understanding your audience

Recently, Apple released the “Creativity Goes On” ad, showcasing ways folks can be creative during the COVID-19 crisis. The uplifting ad does not put any emphasis on the brand or any products, instead promotes innovation during a difficult time. By understanding their audience, Apple conveyed a heartfelt message instead of being overly-promotional.

“Sometimes it’s not important to be ‘the first’ to generate a comment or statement about the particular crisis/situation,” said Jasen. Understanding how the crisis affects your employees, customers and stakeholders will help inform how to handle any given situation.”

“In any crisis, whether on a smaller or major scale, there needs to be a happy medium between acting quickly and maintaining your identity,” added Jesse.

By understanding your audience, you become more aware of what they need. Though things might be crazy and uncertain, stay tuned in to what they are actually doing while your business is in crisis mode. Apple recognized that their customers may not be buying  products right now, but instead shared creative ways to be inventive at home and have fun. This allowed the company to tug at the heartstrings of consumers while also conveying a genuine message about the brand.

Be thoughtful

So, you’ve got your crisis plan in action and you fully understand what your audience needs in the moment. Now, the pressure may feel like it’s on to make a statement. As Jasen made the point earlier, sometimes it’s not important to be the first. But, it’s the strategic thought that can make a lasting impact.

“For a message to truly resonate, you need to take all of the real-time factors and core details into account to ensure you’re hitting the right tone and delivering the most up-to-date information,” said Jesse.

First, by understanding your audience, you can formulate an informed response. Staying tuned in on public platforms, such as social media, and being ready to react can help your business can stay in-the-know and genuine in a public-facing statement.

“We have helped many clients navigate all sorts of crises and it’s imperative to stay level-headed, have the right people on your communications team and make sure your spokespeople and crisis team are in constant contact and clear on any messages you are putting out there,” said Solveig.

We couldn’t have said it better.

The Firm can help you steer your ship in the right direction during any crisis. To plan for your next crisis or tackle an existing one, give us a ring at 702.739.9933 or email us at newbusiness@thefirmpr.com.

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I know that I can always count on the team at The Firm for big-picture thinking, strategy and diligence. They are truly dedicated to the success of this organization and have been an integral part of our family since 2015. From media relations and training to social media and events, The Firm continues to deliver and there’s no agency I’d rather work with.

Bob ClevelandExecutive DirectorRebuilding Together Southern Nevada