Sophia Marshall of Comcast Shares Internal Communications Strategies During Crisis

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With the PRNEWS Brand Reputation Summit coming up on May 23-24, we’re giving readers and soon-to-be attendees a chance to meet our speakers.

The event covers issues surrounding brand reputation, crisis management and brand safety.

In this brief Q&A, we caught up with speaker Sophia Marshall, SVP of Communications, Comcast to discuss internal and external communications during a crisis.

Sophia Marshall, SVP Communications, Comcast

PRNEWS: What are some common challenges organizations face when communicating internally during a crisis?

Sophia Marshall: One of the most common challenges is the speed of information. Often, the internal approval process slows down the communication process, resulting in delayed information. Hence, organizations must create an agile approval process to facilitate the communication of information promptly. The quality of information is also crucial, as providing too little or too much information can be harmful. In addition, informing internal audiences ahead of external sources is critical. Organizations should have a multi-channel strategy that accounts for the possibility of channel limitations, such as website or system hacks, no internet, and so on. Finally, striking the right tone and ensuring leadership visibility and preparation are vital.

PRNEWS: How do public relations professionals balance the need for transparency with the need to protect their clients' reputation during a brand crisis?

Marshall: Responsible transparency is about providing accurate and truthful information while avoiding communication that could further harm the client's reputation. PR professionals should ensure that the information shared is relevant, truthful, and provides clarity on the situation. They should also be transparent about the steps to address the crisis and ensure that any communication aligns with the client's values and brand.

PRNEWS: How can organizations prepare for internal communications to become external communications during a crisis?

Marshall: There is no such thing as "internal only" communication during a crisis. Reputation managers should prepare all communication materials using an external lens, considering that everything they say or write could become public. Organizations should also have a crisis communications plan to prepare for the potential of internal communication becoming external. The plan should include guidelines on how to communicate with employees, customers, and other stakeholders during a crisis, as well as what to do if confidential information is leaked. Additionally, organizations should have a clear messaging strategy that considers various scenarios, ensuring that communication is consistent across all channels. By being prepared, organizations can minimize the impact of a crisis on their reputation.