Be prepared: 15 crisis communication tips
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
This week we were reminded of the value of essential, effective communication. When any crisis happens unexpectedly, we need to communicate quickly to our congregation (in an expected way).
Many of you have that. This week should also be a reminder that we need online equivalency to all major offline (in-person) experiences. In our current culture, churches should have the ability to speak to an engaged social media audience, share live video on social media channels, post video updates on your website, and share a service online (live or pre-recorded).
This checklist isn’t specifically for the COVID-19 crisis; but instead, it’s an essential checklist to be used for any crisis communication:
1. Respond with corresponding understanding and empathy to the mass media’s coverage.
2. Get ahead of the crisis. If you can’t, now is the time to respond.
3. Inform them simply how you’re responding and what you expect them to do.
4. Be concise with your communication but know you may need alternative options for the future. Things will change.
5. Remain calm, serious and confident. Use language that sounds like you and your church.
6. Use all usual communication channels. Pin posts to the top (if possible).
7. Write personally to your audience. They want/need to hear from you. What a great time to demonstrate the Christian’s response to the crisis. Don’t be overly spiritual though. Expect them to use your language as a response to their neighbor or coworker.
8. On social media; monitor, reply, and engage. Be understanding. Do not argue. Hide comments from trolls who don’t listen to reason (don’t delete since that stokes heated responses).
9. Don’t try to be clever.
10. Simplicity is better than complexity.
11. Edit out all unnecessary words and concepts. People prefer short and concise.
12. If you’re cancelling in-person services; do something online (during regular service time) to personally engage with your members. Offer them something to do so they can feel part of the solution (volunteer, give, etc.).
13. Before sending, proof. And proof again. A typo looks like you’re rushing.
14. Use today’s crisis to help formulate a long-term plan for future crises.
15. Be known for love. In all things. John 13:35
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