Internal Communication During a Crisis

Article 18 min
The ability of companies and organizations to effectively and efficiently communicate with employees is essential during a crisis. When a crisis arises, it is just as important that internal communications are as effective as external communications.

Edward Segal, host of "The Crisis Ahead Podcast," and guest Gary Ross, president of Inside Comms, discuss several aspects of internal communication during a crisis. Ross talks about the vital role internal communication plays in a crisis. Ross further discusses several aspects of internal communication, including best practices, communication tools and what some companies are doing right—or wrong.

An organization should have a crisis management plan or at least a framework that includes internal communication details with an open channel to senior leadership to act immediately.

What to Say

Ross recommends that communication from senior leadership to the units and service members should:

  • be empathetic and directly address employee concerns.
  • acknowledge any pain or suffering caused by the crisis.
  • be authentic, upfront and honest.
  • be composed with all the relevant audiences in mind, including employee families.
  • communicate the business impact and the plan to regain stability.
  • emphasize the organization's commitment to doing the right thing.

Ross warns organizations to be careful with what they say and commit to, especially if they cannot substantiate or sustain claims.

Who to Involve

Ross recommends that when a crisis arises, a group consisting of senior leadership, the communication team and people in tune with the audience meet to speak in real-time to hash out a statement, messages and talking points. Honest and frank conversations with senior leadership, especially if the crisis is severe, will ensure that you craft authentic messages that will do the job and will be taken the right way. Before hitting send, remember to clear the messages with the legal team and the Chief of Staff and/or Executive Officer.

Getting the Message

The best way to send the information depends on the organization and its workforce disbursement. It's essential to have an emergency communication system using whatever mass communication tool an organization has in place, such as email, automated phone call, app notifications, instant messaging services or texting services etc. The tool isn't as important as getting the message to where the people are.