The First Line of Crisis Communication

It’s not a matter of if your company or organization is going to incur a crisis, but when. Even the most storied and recognizable brands are going to have their names (however temporarily) dragged through the mud because of a crisis that makes them look bad, incompetent or both. Sony Pictures, NBC News/Brian Williams and Uber are recent and glaring examples. Rather than operate under the false impression that your company is immune to crisis, it is better to have a sharp strategy in place when one lands on your doorstep.

The best place to start is with employees, the so-called brand ambassadors. If you can’t intelligently communicate to employees what the problem is—and how you intend to fix it—good luck trying to convince consumers, customers, media and perhaps government that you have the crisis under control.

Employees, of course, are the first line of defense during a crisis. That’s because the media will try their darndest to suss out rank-and-file employees to get a read on precisely what the company is doing to mitigate the problem and right the ship.

Employees can’t be left uninformed or they are liable to say something to media that could make a bad situation worse.

With that in mind, here’s a checklist of best practices for crisis communication between employer and employee.


 This article originally appeared in the March 2, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.