Time to act?

In today’s politically divisive world, where any company, brand or organization can fall victim to an attack that results in a barrage of media coverage in a matter of minutes, communicators face greater uncertainty around how and when to respond, if at all.

The communications and public affairs’ paradigm is moving at a drastic pace in line with vast changes in both the political and media environments. Strategies to address a variety of crisis issues are no longer pre-packaged and waiting for an immediate call to action.

So, how and when is the best time to act when your organization or your client’s organization faces a communications crisis? The short answer is: no silver bullet exists.

In our new reality, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to crisis, as communications crises are far more complicated, broader in their potential negative impact and hit the press almost instantaneously. This instantaneous reach to the general public should not provoke a haphazard counter response as quickly as possible but, rather, should spark a period of thoughtful crisis examination to determine if response is warranted and, if so, how and when.

In the heat of the moment, we all feel the pressure to shoot out a statement. However, communicators should examine the impact of any response or action on the organization as a whole by asking ourselves, “does responding offer a net positive impact to the business, or does doing so negatively impact the business?” As we’ve seen from the crises of late, consumer trust, brand perception and investor confidence, including stock prices, can all be negatively affected by a time of crisis.

Communications strategies have the power to drive the conversation and seed a positive message, but can’t be done on the spot without looking at the bigger picture. Disseminating a calculated response after thorough examination will pay far greater dividends to an organization than one that is distributed immediately.