By Shawal Ras
Crisis communication is an important aspect of public relations. It is designed to protect and defend an individual, company, or organisation facing a public challenge to its reputation. In the event of any disaster, be it a natural disaster, terrorism, or a pandemic, it is critical to communicate effectively with the affected publics, media, as well as the internal staff.
Setting up multiple means of communication plans is one of the most important first steps. E-mail, social media pages, and direct call lines are some of the examples you can use. These platforms can be a great help, allowing affected parties to check and get credible information.
When it comes to a crisis, the media is one of the key elements that could make or break you. The biggest challenge during a crisis is to manage the interested parties who may share misleading information that may damage your reputation as an organisation. Designate a spokesperson, train them in dealing with the media, and make sure all employees know how to contact and direct the media. Such training could help any organisation to project confidence while interacting with the media during any crisis.
Let us not forget, internal staff are also key people during a crisis. The goal is to provide timely, accurate, and clear information to prevent inaccuracies and rumours. This way, when something happens, everyone is channeling the same message.
Aside from communication, one also needs to plan strategies in dealing with a crisis. Currently, the world is dealing with a pandemic that has caused disruption to businesses everywhere. International University of Malaya-Wales (IUMW), one of the rising private universities in Malaysia, proactively launched e-learning that allows its students to study and commit to their lessons at home despite the ongoing crisis. This way, the University shows its ability to deal with a crisis in a quick and proactive way.
Once the storm is over, one ought to normalise the pace of your communication. This phase is called “post-crisis”. This is the time when you learn the outcomes of the crisis and you improve your performance. You learn to communicate your strengths and corporate values, and to be honest and transparent.
Crisis communication is one of the core topics taught in the Bachelor of Professional Communication (Hons) at the Faculty of Communication, Arts & Media, IUMW. The subject teaches the students on effective communication, as well as expectation and challenges one will face in the event of a major crisis shakedown. Good PR skills are always valuable, and perhaps more important than ever in today’s fractured media market. For more information, visit iumw.edu.my.