Considered Communications in a Crisis

Nobody could have foreseen the impact that COVID-19 would have on business continuity and the level of disruption that has resulted. At Crowd we have always advised clients to understand how to apply communications best practise in times of crisis, especially when the crisis is an external event over which the brand has no control.

Often these are integrated communications plans, that include multiple channels, on and offline. But during the past month, the most frequent query we have received from clients and potential clients is about how to communicate in the right way on behalf of the brand on social media.

Crisis decisions regarding social media communications are often made out of a lack of knowledge, fear, or a mixture of both. Often there isn’t the time or the experience within the business to effectively put these plans in place quickly.

We generally see the following reactions from brands that aren’t sure what to do in this situation, or who haven’t got a robust social media strategy in place already:

Halt all social media activity and stop communicating altogether?

We advise on a bespoke basis because there is no off the shelf package that suits every client. There are some cases where it is appropriate for a brand to temporarily pause all outbound messaging. But what is equally important is to be monitoring via customised listening feeds. This allows real-time notifications of any mentions or discussions around a particular industry, brand or key words – be they positive or negative, and ensures you’re aware of and can react or contribute meaningfully and with empathy.

“Crowd have been invaluable in advising on how to communicate with ICCI’s customers at this difficult time. The pandemic required a sudden and dramatic shift in our content strategy and their responsiveness was key to managing that effectively.

Michelle Arundale, Insurance Corporation Channel Islands

Continue to post, but without consideration of the impact of the messaging on their audiences?

The world is fighting this pandemic together, and that togetherness is bringing communities closer as we all fight to make it to the other side in one piece. The crisis has delivered an emphatic reminder that brands need to build their strategy around real, authentic, human content. It’s time to roll up those sleeves, and get your teams involved in supporting the community in a way that is aligned with your own corporate ethics. This should be communicated online in a co-creative manner with the initiatives you are choosing to support. Any promotional activity should be carefully considered, if at all, and always on a case by case basis specific to the unique relationships any brand has with its audience.

Over-sharing content which isn’t meaningful, helpful or relevant?

Again, any content requires serious consideration. It’s a matter of relevancy.

Regardless of how important it is to the brand, is it appropriate during these unprecedented times? Which platform(s) and format does it suit? What is the value for the people you are intending to reach?

Is it repetitive? Even if it is relevant, how many times do you need to tell your audience that you’re working from home/working hard to “get through it” before the message itself becomes an irritant.

Whilst informing service changes on a real-time basis was important, we needed to strike the right tone emotively in other communications which focussed on the human elements of ICCI – our team, our support for them and for the wider community.”

Michelle Arundale, Insurance Corporation Channel Islands

And finally….

During a crisis, when everyone is online 24/7 (especially on social channels) the opportunity to get it right OR get it wrong, is hugely amplified.

We wrote about the success of the States of Guernsey crisis communications recently and outlined why we think they have got right. No doubt the States of Guernsey have diverted huge resources to their Comms Teams in order to facilitate this successful dialogue with the community right now, but not every business can do this or indeed sustain those costs in an economic downturn.

The strongest piece of advice we can give businesses is therefore to plan and prepare a crisis communications strategy, and ensure that you have identified the risks and how you will mitigate them.

These are challenging times for all of us, Crowd included. We want to do our bit for the business community, and so if you are a business owner or have responsibility for the marketing and communications of the brand you work for, we are offering a free consultation.

We believe that maintaining a presence is critical and will provide the opportunity to hit the ground running once this virus has been defeated, and whilst we realise for some the damage is already irreversible, we want to offer our advice to whoever needs support.

If you want to talk with us, please email:

“With Crowd’s input, we achieved this seamlessly and their insightful opinions on how, and when, to communicate at this time were invaluable.”

Michelle Arundale, Insurance Corporation Channel Islands

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