Crisis comms signoff HERO
16th Mar 2020
3 Min Read

Crisis comms: Streamlining sign off

Daniel Lambie
Daniel Lambie
Strategy

If there’s ever a time when businesses need to be agile, responsive and authoritative, it’s during a crisis.

But overburdened IC professionals are finding that imperative is butting heads with an issue that’s dogged our profession for decades: the protracted, multi-stakeholder sign-off process.

It’s an ironic situation. Those complex loops are designed to protect the integrity and reputation of the business. But during a crisis, they can do the exact opposite, delaying and possibly complicating timely communications. The consequence? Damage to the organisation’s relationship with the workforce, potential damage to its reputation and the creation of an information void in which misinformation thrives.

Now is the time communicators need to be trusted and empowered. We can’t abandon diligence and discipline, but we need to recreate business-as-usual processes to fast-track what we need to do.

Easier said than done, for some. But there are a few relatively simple steps that organisations can take to put in place a more streamlined workflow.

  1. Define objectives. During a crisis, any crisis, you need to stop before you start and think about what your communications need to achieve. This could be protecting the health and wellbeing of your employees. It could be mitigating disruption to operations. It could be minimising reputational damage. It probably will be a mix of all three, and more. But clearly defining your objectives – and having these approved by senior stakeholders – means you have less need to involve them in the approval of the actual content of specific communications.
  2. Create a lean sign-off chain. In the most intense circumstances, a crisis team may be formed, to concentrate on delivering your objectives. This will include representatives from most or all business-critical functions. This team will have a predefined chain of command, and each participant will have a clear set of roles and responsibilities. Even if they’re not in the same room, they should have a secure virtual space where they can collaborate and respond to the changing landscape – quickly. Decisions are delegated to this team, and this team alone.
  3. Have an up-to-date channel and audience map. We all mean to get round to updating it. It’s always on the to do list. But during crises, this nice to have becomes vital. Developing communications quickly is one side of the coin. But you also need to be able to deliver them to the right people in the right way.

 Many of us are engrossed in firefighting just now. It’s all very well some consultant writing a blog about things you need to put in place to succeed when it’s too late to do so. Finger wagging is so annoying, I know.

But between breaths, finding the capacity to take the steps needed to streamline your approval process could be transformational.

And, when things settle back down (they will), you can use this approach and your experience to affect changes to your business as usual activities – saving your organisation huge amounts of time and money and cementing your place as an empowered and trusted professional.

If you have crisis comms questions, need help, or just need an ear do get in touch.

This article is part of a series linked to our 2020 World Changers report, featuring ten key trends leaders need on their radars.

More articles in the 'Disinformation Crisis' topic:

The Disinformation Crisis - Explore the trend with Lisa Hawksworth

The Blue Tick effect - creating a trusted source

The New Town Hall - why leader visibility is more important than ever

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