The past week has been one of reflection and considering the future of crisis communication. If you were lucky enough to see one of the webinars this week you will know that there is a lot more to the future of both communication and crisis communication.
I have written a lot about the recovery phase of the pandemic that we are living through. For me the recovery phase is always the most challenging, complex and troubling time in the lifespan of a crisis. We are not at recovery yet (and if you need to know why I can share my recovery comms readiness assessment document) so what do we need to do to be ready?
There are five simple steps that you can start to do to help you be in the best position possible to build a strong recovery.
- Review what has happened. The foundation for the future needs to be built on understanding what has happened to your organisation and the people in it. This means reflecting on the decisions that have been made and the outcome of them. It has been a year already so practically using debrief documents and other data will be essential to remember in detail what has happened. Consider the positive and the negative of the crisis.
- Consider your strategy. What does your crisis communication strategy look like? How is the organisation you are supporting going to have to change? With any crisis there will need to be a period of change and adjustment in the move to recovery and to rebuild. It doesn’t matter whether your reputation has been damaged or not by the crisis. Reviewing how the business and its communicate operates is essential. Post-Covid this revision will be critical.
- Decide on the priorities. One of the reasons the recovery phase is so complex is that you will have a huge piece of work to do in building for the future. But existing work and demands will still exist and any additional resources that you had during the crisis are likely to have been removed. As communicators, we like to be problem solvers and ‘can do’ people so we keep absorbing more and more demand until we are pushed too far. A strong recovery comes from being clear about what matters as the business moves forward so negotiate a revision to priorities. Make sure some are removed from your list.
- Recharge your batteries. The mental health crisis after Covid is something that is continually talked about but talk is not enough. After a year of continued pressure now is the time to make sure your batteries are recharged. If you were an elastic band how stretched do you feel? There were so many tips on the resilience webinar that Emma Ewing presented at this week. If you are responsible for a team you will no doubt have thought about the time they need to recouperate but will have neglected to think about yourself. Leadership through recovery is as challenging as in crisis so make sure your are not stretched too far.
- Consider the scenarios. Again, this is about making some time to reflect, use the information you have about how things have been and how they are going to change and consider future scenarios. Consider what the challenges may be and how you can meet them. Consider what the positive opportunities may be and how you can maximise them. Consider what changes you need to make to have strong and effective communication.
It is vital that we learn from every crisis and even thought it may feel like a time to rush ahead and leave the difficult times behind it is not. It is instead a time to get ready to face what the future may hold both good and bad.