10 Golden Rules of Crisis Communication

10 Golden Rules of Crisis Communication

At Greenbrier we follow nine rules for managing a crisis. While not all nine are necessarily applicable in every crisis (actually, that's

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At Greenbrier we follow nine rules for managing a crisis. While not all nine are necessarily applicable in every crisis (actually, that’s never happened), often two or three are relevant. In order of importance, I present the nine rules of crisis communications:

Rule #1: What you think happened, probably did.

  • Don’t defend the unknown. If you find yourself wishing or self-convincing, stop.

Rule #2: Facts don’t need spin.

  • What you attempt to hide will come to light eventually, because there are thousands of savvy journalists working to find the truth at all times.

Rule #3: Bad things happen on weekends, holidays, and when the weather is nice.

  • Social media is 24/7, meaning media cycles are now the same.
  • Never have your entire Communications team off the grid at once.

Rule #4: We all do windows, we all do floors.

  • Many crises turn into an “all-hands” situation; responsibilities can appear at any given time, and no one is above or below any of these tasks.

Rule #5: Don’t answer questions based on speculation.

  • Don’t be afraid to call out a speculative question: “I’m hesitant to speculate, but what I do know is…”

Rule #6: Saying “don’t quote me on that” means that you will be quoted.

  • Always presume that conversations with reporters are “on the record,” unless specifically agreed “off” by both parties.

Rule #7: The media is a terrible lens through which to tell your story.

  • A media engagement is a transaction. The press and your company each want something different — they are rarely the same thing.

Rule #8: Don’t repeat the negative.

  • Most people don’t hear the actual denial. What registers most is the accusation itself.

Rule #9: Never* use your principal to deliver bad news.

  • *Unless they are excellent on camera + comprehensively media trained.


Rule #10: If you are explaining, you’re losing.

  • Resist the “If I could only explain then everyone would understand” instinct – it’s always wrong.

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Published on: Jul 26, 2019

This article is from Inc.com

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