The MOST critical need in a crisis

Crisis communication has been turned into a speciality practice all of its own.  So much so that there are great thick books you can read or week long seminars you can attend.

Of course, preparation is critical.  Having your crisis communications tool kit in order can make a huge difference to your capability to respond and save your brand and reputation from massive damage. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that the entire tool kit can be made redundant unless you control what I believe is the most critical factor: emotion.

I’ve seen it time and time again.  You wake up to find your company the subject of a leaked report – an ugly headline on the news website or front page. 

Yes, you want to know who leaked the information and why?  You feel the immediate pressure to respond.  But the critical word in that sentence is “feel”.  An emotion charged response or a response plan driven by feeling is likely to end in disaster. 

I’d go so far as to say that a senior team member who is seen to be reacting emotionally needs to be removed from the response team.  That’s difficult – especially if the emotionally charged individual happens to be the CEO or Chair of the Board.  Nevertheless, allowing emotion to influence your actions in a time of crisis should be avoided at all costs.  It will inevitably pervert the response, inflame the situation and maximise the chance of things just getting worse.

My prescription: Have the chill pills front and centre of your crisis comms kit