There is a habit, far too common today, to consider crisis management and communication the province of the corporate team. Consultants focus on corporate stakeholders, messaging to the ASX, maintaining reputation in a corporate context.
What is missing from this perspective? Maintaining reputation in a human context. Maintaining the capacity to do the right thing, and to speak the truth of that attempt - with authenticity and a lack of sophisticated guile.
It takes a different sort of awareness and strategy to communicate to and through the people at the front line of the incident - to actually know the details of the response and the journey towards resolution and recovery.
I never again want to hear a “compassionate key message” written by someone who doesn’t know how those impacted by the incident are feeling and put into the mouth of a spokesperson who doesn’t deeply feel the truth of the words they speak. Empathy means to feel with – to do that you must know what the feeling is. If something sounds like a cliché it is!
Good crisis communication is much more than conveying timely, consistent and accurate information (though that is no mean feat) with enough signifiers of ‘caring’ to tick the box. It is rigorous and strategic empathy, rigorous and strategic decency, rigorous and strategic kindness. It requires complex understanding not clever tricks.
Kintsukuroi tells us to commit. Adversity calls our CEOs to find the HighGround. It is the job of the crisis consultant to help them find it.