7 “Nos” of crisis situations
In terms of crisis communications, most advice is centred on what to do. However, it is also important to take note of what one must not do. UNDP Communication Consultant in Ukraine Iryna Titarenko gave advice on the rules of crisis communication during webinar "Crisis Communications in the Judiciary" of the training course "Model Communication Solutions for Ukrainian Courts".
- Do not keep silent ("no comment")
Silence creates a gap in communication that allows others to become the primary source, but it is very important to take the niche of primary source of information, i.e., the one to which the media will refer.
- Do not lie
The truth is the best strategy. Refer only to available checked facts, do not concoct.
- Don't say things you haven't checked or don't know for sure
Do not comment information of which you are not the primary source. You can't check it, there is always a risk of evaluative judgments, manipulations, prejudice on the part of certain channels. Speak only about things you are sure of.
- Do not neglect training of keynote speakers
Do this before the crisis flares up. People need to know that they are speakers. And sometimes it happens that these are not the people who have the official position of speaker. After all, sometimes it happens that one person cannot be physically present in several places where it is necessary to communicate or the information flow is so great that one person cannot have time to process it and go out to the public with updated data. There should be a "plan" - people who are ready to go out and speak to the public.
- Do not hide information from employees
The first to spread rumours are brand ambassadors and organization's employees. After all, if internal audience does not receive information, it begins to act in a certain way and the algorithm is universal here: one does not know - he/she draws conclusions based on his/her own experience. Therefore, it is necessary to inform employees, because otherwise they will also informally provide information, but probably contrary to the real facts or official position.
- Do not comment on the situation for others
It is impossible to guarantee that the position of even long-standing partners will coincide with the position of your institution. Therefore, to strengthen your arguments in crisis situations, it is advisable to ask them to publicly communicate their position (probably a position of support), but not to do it for them.
- Do not make vain promises
If there is no guarantee that you will provide information in two or three hours, then it should only be communicated that it takes time and the fulfilment of the promise depends on many factors. If you have already made a promise with specific data (participation in the broadcast, response in two hours, briefing, etc.) - keep it, otherwise crisis perception will only be exacerbated by external observers (media, public, stakeholders).