Crisis Communication | Definition, Process & Examples

by | Feb 15, 2019 | Digital Marketing

10 Min Read. |

Want to know what crisis communication is? Then you have come to the right place.

An organization might not face happy and cheerful moments throughout its cycle. There might come various ups and downs and negatives are definitely not preferred.

The crisis is among those negatives which can even ruin an organization.

There might occur serious unrest among the employees and other individuals. There can be multiple incidents that may lead the company to fall in such a crisis.

The employees start to experience a sense of fear during this period and it may cause major complications in the company and to its employees as well.

As per stats, around 60% of business decision makers confirm that they have experienced a crisis in their previous or current company.

The only way to prevent the company from the bad consequences of crisis is to sense it before it actually happens. Once a crisis is predicted the employees must be warned of its consequences as the crisis can badly affect the functioning of an organization.

What is Crisis Communication?

Basically, in the case of an emergency, the communication that is enabled by the company by using the various technologies and systems is known as Crisis communication.

You never know when a crisis is going to hit your business hence it is better to be prepared for it. Crisis can be of different types; fire, crime, weather and so on.

Crisis communication can be really handy as it can help the individuals related to the company to establish a communication amongst them in order to share the vital information that can help in easing down the situation and protecting the company from a downfall.

In simple words, Crisis communication can be a boon in such a difficult moment and can help the company to retain its reputation. Crisis communication is basically among those last hopes which can help the company to emerge from that critical situation.

Crisis communication is one of those last hopes which can help an organization to maintain its public image. When every other factor like government investigation, media and criminals are trying to harm the company’s image, Crisis communication can prevent it from serious downfall.

It actually stands alone against all those different challenges that are continuously trying to tarnish the image of the company. Now, as you have understood what is Crisis Communication, next thing comes up in the line is why you need Crisis Communication, so let us dive deep into those-

Why Do We Need Crisis Communication?

Crisis can be a serious threat to any brand as it can leave great negative impacts on the reputation of any company. To tackle this situation and to figure out solutions companies hire Crisis communication experts.

For any brand its identity is among the most precious assets and crisis communication team is hired to save that and ensure that the brand does not lose its status within the industry.

The experts of Crisis communication work hard to figure out the best and quickest possible ways to overcome the situation and tackle the challenges.

Crisis Communication Plan

(i) Employees of the company should never try to avoid any external source, whether that’s your client or any other party meet them and speak out of the problem. In case if you feel then ask for their help.

(ii) You should not feel shameful for anything as it is very common with most of the companies. If you will keep avoiding media personnel it will only worsen the situation so it is advised to face them and answer their questions.

(iii) In this tough situation, you all have to help each other if you want your company to stand out of the problem. Don’t let anyone lose hope. Keep motivating each other and don’t break the communication. Do not play blame games, at the end of the day you are all against the same enemy.

(iv) In the case of the emergency, employees must maintain effective communication among them. Employees must have a way to discuss the problem with each other and together reach a solution.

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(v) What information is being rolled out by the employees of the organization inside and outside the company must be accurate. Your company can’t afford any more guesses at this stage.

(vi) The experts of crisis communication must take good and quick decisions. Since the situation is highly unstable so you can’t wait for so long to take any decision hence you have to be quick and effective with your decisions. Think innovative and try different ideas to bring back the things to normal.

(vii) Every individual in the company must keep the information confidential. Those who violate the rules must face serious actions. These type of activities can lead the company to fall in more troubles and can harm the overall reputation of the company.

(viii) The performance of employees must be regularly checked. It is better to prepare a report about their progress in order to learn the major drawbacks. Surprise audits can be a great help.

In order to retain the reputation of the company in the industry and to tackle these tough situations, organizations hire experts of Crisis communication plan for immaculate and result driven execution.

Steps of Crisis Communication

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If you really want to fight against this crisis situation and want your company to stand out again and regain the same reputation then here are the top 10 steps of crisis communication that you must follow.

Among these 10 steps, the top 7 must be followed before a crisis occurs and rest after the crisis.

1. Crisis Anticipation

Prevention is always better than cure.

It is advised to set up an active crisis communication team and keep analyzing the various kinds of stuff that can cause any problem in the functioning of your company.

If you will follow this then you can either fix minor issues that can become potential threats in the future and avoid a crisis or you can already plan for the response and ways to tackle the crisis.

2. Choose Your Crisis Communication Team

It is always advised to all the companies to have a crisis communication team.

This is basically among the top steps in your crisis communication plan. Gather the senior executives of your company and heads of various divisions and discuss setting up a crisis communication team. Find the most proactive and trustworthy member.

You need to prepare an impeccable team to handle any such situation.

3. Selection of the Spokesperson

Not everybody in any organization can talk to external people in any difficult situation hence find the best spokesperson from your company and train him/her for any such situation.

The spokesperson from any organization must have the right skill; the skill to speak before a huge number of person (around 1000) without any fear. Whatever he or she speaks must be brilliantly framed and a part of the strategy.

You will have to decide who is going to become the spokesperson for your company; will he/she be the chief executive because he/she is a great team leader or someone else?

Figure out this at the earliest and select the best person for the job.

4. Training of the Spokesperson

Being a spokesperson is definitely not easy since you have to perform a very critical role. A lot depends upon you and what you will speak.

Since during the crisis misunderstanding is very common so being a spokesperson, he/she must avoid it.

Their training must be done in such a way that they can handle each and every type of questions with excellence.

They must be prepared for all ups and downs during their talk and overconfidence must be avoided.

5. Setting Up The Monitoring & Notification System

This is probably one of the most important steps of crisis communication.

The employees of the company must maintain good communication among themselves in order to share information between them.

But most importantly the information must be accessed by each and everyone at the earliest and to do so notification system must be enabled.

Whenever you receive an email/SMS/message from your work-fellow you must receive a special notification so that you can access it at the earliest. Audio and video messages can also be preferred to share information more effectively.

The company’s social media page must always be monitored so that you stay updated about what is being said about your organization on social media.

This can turn out to be really helpful while in any kind of crisis situation.

6. Getting to Know Your Stakeholders

Your stakeholders matter a lot when it comes to setting up your company’s reputation in the market.

They are the one who can talk to others who are not in your contact hence you should provide them with the right message that you expect them to forward ahead.

Any wrong or unwanted information can be harmful to your company’s reputation.

7. Holding Statements Must Be Prepared

When a crisis outbreaks it doesn’t provide you with a lot of time to prepare your messages and in case of a hurry, you might not prepare an effective message.

Hence it is advised to have a holding statement prepared in advance to use it immediately after the crisis of the outbreak.

This statement must be regularly reviewed by the crisis communication team and must be updated if any such requirement is there.

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Now we will talk about post-crisis steps.

1. Analyzing The Situation

Unless and until you have a clear idea about the situation it is not advised to act strongly. Assess the situation and prepare a proper analysis and then try to understand the severity of the situation and work accordingly. Your one wrong step can prove to be detrimental for your company. Do not take any action in haste and properly analyze your every single step.

2. Prepare Final Messages

While delivering the holding statements, the crisis communication team must work on developing the crisis specific messages that are to be delivered. These messages must be prepared by keeping the overall situation in mind and no sudden and blind action must be taken. Your team needs to prepare different types of messages like for different social media platforms (140 character message for twitter).

3. Post-Crisis Analysis

After the crisis, a detailed analysis must be made and you must learn a lesson from it. Focus on the weak areas and try to figure out what lead to this crisis outbreak. Your crisis communication team must prepare a detailed analysis of what can be the major positive changes in the functioning of your company in order to avoid any such crisis in the future.

Crisis can hit your company at any time and you might miss the chance to avoid it.

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Here are a few crisis communication examples that lead the company to stand again and resume its functioning:

Crisis Communication Examples

1. Southwest

Southwest Flight 345 faced a tough situation for the company but it showed how social media must be used to tackle this critical situation which made it one of the best Crisis Communication Examples.


The company stood honest with their audience and provided the exact information on Facebook and Twitter which lead them to earn the trust and faith of their customer.

2. Red Cross

A personal tweet on the official twitter account of the company could have caused a serious problem for the company but they handled the situation brilliantly. In this case, social media actually became the medium to the crisis.


Red Cross admitted the issue honestly and deleted that tweet that is for sure one of the most prompt Crisis Communication Examples.

They further explained the situation through their corporate blog and their honesty was the reason that the company didn’t lose its customer’s trust.

3. JC Penny

One of the customers of JC Penny wrote on Reddit about one of its kettle which resembled Adolf Hitler and this post went viral.


Though it was a very minor issue the company took it seriously and responded quickly acknowledging the problem. They stood honestly and replied to hundreds of tweets admitting their unintentional mistake.

Wrap Up!

So, we hope you would have understood the role of Crisis Communication in letting an organization come out of some difficult circumstances and becoming a winner.

Implementing the right Crisis Communication strategy helps businesses function smoothly in a hassle-free manner. It also helps in boosting the conversions and brand awareness of businesses. Joining the Digital Marketing Course guides business owners to understand key Crisis Communication strategies.

Did we miss anything about Crisis Communication strategy for your business? Write to us in comments.

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