How to build a resilient comms plan at crisis speed

by Sean Oliver, on May 13, 2020

Anyone who’s responsible for keeping their staff or colleagues on the same page knows that nothing about employee communications is ever turnkey. This is especially true in times of crisis, since considerations vary widely for each industry, geography, and organization. During COVID-19, being a leader also comes with stress, uncertainty, and a whole host of unexpected challenges. In this climate, it’s especially important not to let communications be an afterthought. In order to effectively get information out to essential workers and keep them engaged, you’ll need to plan thoughtfully and use responsive strategies that meet their evolving needs.
To help out frontline leaders, operations executives, and HR teams who suddenly need to communicate with employees much more frequently than ever before, we developed an interactive planning workbook, which you can download here. Our stage-by-stage crisis communications guide includes specific steps you can take to quickly prepare for the next stage of the current pandemic, as well as future emergency situations.
Here are a few of the key tactics we recommend in our interactive workbook for the later stages of a typical crisis communications cycle:
  • Determine and establish your communications cadence and keep it as regular as possible
  • Frequently measure the reach and engagement of your content
  • Take the pulse of employees and revise your messaging, FAQs, and policies accordingly
  • Crowd-source problem solving and share successes across different parts of the organization
  • Learn from how other organizations or regions are handling the crisis
  • Make note of any hard-to-reach audiences and experiment with new channels, media, or spokespeople to help turn things around
  • Thank all of your key audiences (especially frontline workers) for their support and patience during a difficult time
  • Measure and compare the impact of each communication asset, topic, and channel
  • Identify which teams communicated well (and why), and look for gaps that should be filled next time
  • Hold post-mortems with your communications team and employee advisory council
  • Revise or expand your plan based on all these inputs
  • Brief employees and managers on the lessons you learned, any changes to your emergency plans, and other next steps
For more recommendations and ideas, download our new interactive plan. We hope this workbook helps you stay organized once your leadership team has a chance to step back and assess the company’s internal communications strategies. You can discuss the various tactics we suggest, pick and choose the techniques that best fit your organization, fill in pertinent details, and share and update this document over time as you develop (and continuously expand) your business continuity and disaster preparedness plans. We find that the managers and executives who are intentional about communications and embrace best practices like these tend to notice greater agility, resilience, and durability in their business over time.
Of course, having a unified system in place for communicating across your entire workforce can dramatically simplify each of these critical steps and help you maintain more frequent, nuanced, cohesive communications during any crisis. If your team is looking for a real-time communication tool that makes it easier to communicate with impact, please reach out: we are waiving fees for businesses directly impacted by COVID-19 for the duration of the crisis and are offering one-day deployment and onboarding for new customers. We’d be glad to help.
Finally, don’t forget to also download our free full eBook on “Communicating at Crisis Speed” if you’d like to dive deeper into actionable tips and other considerations that will help you achieve greater reach and engagement with each message you need to deliver. As always, share your stories with us on Twitter and stay tuned for more COVID-19 resources from Crew and around the web.