Effective Crisis Communication

Your communication in times of crisis makes all the difference

When things are falling apart, clear crisis communication can make customers, employees, investors and other stakeholders feel much better. During a crisis, such as a pandemic, natural disaster, civil unrest or financial depression, people are overwhelmed. The situation itself is difficult to deal with; they may also be inundated with information, not all of it true. Effective crisis communication can make all the difference in the literal and underlying messages they receive from your company.

Be Brief

To communicate effectively, use short, impactful words. People will understand you and will view you as a decisive, trustworthy leader. Don’t use jargon or too many multi-syllable words in crisis communication. Get to the point quickly.

As an example, during the coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo sent this tweet, “Stay Home. Stop the Spread. Save Lives.” The great communicator Winston Churchill, was also a fan of brevity. In fact, he wrote a memo to members of Parliament urging them to be brief when communicating.

Use Analogies

The most efficient way to explain a new situation, which is usually the case in crisis communication, is to use an analogy to something your audience already understands. For example, say you have an essential business that is still operating during the pandemic and you want to explain how your employees are wearing protective gear. Instead of talking about N95 masks and PPE, say that each employee is suited up in full protective gear, just as firefighters wear specially designed clothing and equipment to protect them.

Tell a Story

We are hardwired to listen to and appreciate stories. Stories are a highly effective way to communicate, not just information but also feelings and lessons.

In Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address, he immediately talking about the founding of the country. At first, this subject seems off-topic for the times. However, he wanted to remind people of North and South that they had a shared origin and were and should remain one country.

If your company has helped people (employees, customers or community members) during crisis, tell the story with names and details. It will get across your message better than just telling people you care.

Times of crisis do not lend themselves to dense language, in writing or spoken communication. This includes legalese, flowery or technical jargon. Make sure you communicate with stakeholders regularly, but pare back to the essentials in your communication. Here are some additional tips from Purdue University.

Talk to Pro Creative about find out how we can help you improve your crisis communication.

Getting People to Try Something New

Photo by Gerald Yambao

Change is scary. That is why, with a successful new product or service, you see the bell curve with a tiny number of early adopters trying it out for a while before it becomes commonplace. Oftentimes, this process takes months or even years and the innovative entrepreneurs need to stay funded long enough to benefit.

You may have the most amazing new gadget or innovative service, but unless you can convince people to go outside their comfort zone, no one will buy it. The key to success is accelerating the adoption of the new thing. But how can we do it?

Our brains are hardwired to be set in our ways. After all, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right? Or even if what you have isn’t really working for you, “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.” There are ways, however, based on neuroscience and behavioral economics to encourage prospects to take the bold step of trying something new.

Demonstrate Value

Today’s buyers are overloaded with information about products, so they end up tuning most of it out. However, there are two ways that human beings intuitively take in information: through engaging stories and the senses.

Stories

Show the product or service and how it positively influenced someone’s life. This can be in written form or via video. Be sure to include emotional content, which will allow viewers and readers to relate to the person in the story and see themselves receiving a similar benefit. That benefit might be feeling smarter for getting more and paying less, enjoying the time they gain from added convenience, social validation they get from others or just plain happiness from a better experience.

Multi-sensory Engagement

When you are able to physically be present with prospects, use multiple senses to give them an immersive experience. Opening up a new store or restaurant? Offer free gifts or samples to passers-by. Layer other senses such as scent and music to give them a taste of what they can expect inside. New packaged goods can engage potential buyers with the shape, texture, colors and even scent of their packaging.

Even digital goods and services can use sensory language to prompt prospects to imagine their sensory experience after purchase. This can be explicit, such as describing how comfortable and soft a set of bed sheets will be once you buy it. Or it can rely on heuristics, colors, words and haptics that are short cuts for concepts.

For example, brown and green (the color of trees) are associated with the concept of “natural.” When you use those colors in your marketing or packaging, people are inclined to think of your product as being natural/organic/healthy. If you are selling a luxury item, it is best that the item or packaging be heavy because people associate weight with value.

Make It Easy

People get into routines. If a new product or service is innovative, try to piggyback on prospects’ routines and habits so they don’t have to change their behavior much. When satellite radio launched, it utilized car and home radio equipment that could also receive AM and FM signals. People knew how to work radios and were used to using them. So it was a small change to switch over to the input for satellite radio. This was made even easier when satellite radio-enabled radios were factory installed in new US cars with a year of free service.

Another way of making it easy for people is relating your product to one they are already familiar with. Let’s say you have a service that uses an app to link customers with a pet sitter in their area. Describe it as “the Uber of pet sitting” so that people immediately grasp the concept and feel comfortable with it.

Reduce Risk

Taking away some of the fear up front can go a long way in convincing someone to try something new. One way to do this is social proof. This includes testimonials, positive reviews and marketing that positions the product as the new “it” thing or the service that everyone is using.

You can also be concrete about reducing risk by offering warranties, guarantees and no-hassle refunds.

Let Pro Creative help you create marketing that shortens that new product adoption process.

Creating Engaging Webinars

Webinars

How do you know if your webinar is engaging the attendees? One benchmark is the number of contacts you get immediately afterward of attendees asking for more information about buying. However, webinars may be highly effective at boosting phone calls, appointments and ultimately sales over a longer period of time. Attendees may not be ready to buy at that moment, and just gathering information. Or they might need a few more emails from you in order to act.

HubSpot did a survey using the number of webinar attendees who tweeted or blogged about webinar content as a benchmark. Certainly, if attendees are interested enough to share your content, your webinar is engaging them. Here are some insights.

Create shareable content

Of course, anyone can share any content, but when your content is really interesting to your audience, new and unique, they will want to share it. Why? Sharing this kind of content actually makes the attendee look smart and improves their reputation among peers and bosses. Boost this kind of behavior by:

  • Emphasizing ideas and facts that are “out of the box” or surprising
  • Include information from recent studies and sources so it’s “hot off the press”
  • Using phrases like “Few people know this, but…” and “Your customers can really benefit from knowing this…”
  • Making sure that ideas are phrases succinctly so they are easily tweetable

Be likeable

Webinar participants are more likely to share about your presentation if they like the person giving the webinar. Attendees’ perceptions of the presenter are based not only on his or her presentation skills, but also on how the presenter makes them feel.

  • Present with high energy, without being frenetic or talking too fast
  • Build in short pauses to let participants digest and share the information you are providing
  • Even if attendees can’t see you (when you are showing slides), smile while you talk. The positive vibe is transmitted in your voice.
  • Although you are speaking as an expert, let the audience know that you know they are smart, professional and motivated to do perform well

Use Good Design

If your slides look confusing, you will find that your attendees’ minds are wandering and they will start dropping off your webinars. Keep your slides simple and impactful.

  • Keep to one thought per slide
  • Avoid bullets – you want participants to focus on what you are saying, not just read it before you are done talking.
  • Have more to say than you put on the slide – the slide text gives the main idea while you verbally provide more detail, examples, etc.
  • Don’t use any font size smaller than 30 points – this ensures that everyone can easily read the text and that there is not too much of it per slide
  • Use strong imagery that is relevant to the point you are making

Provide Your Slides

Sure, participants can consult their notes and share your content that way, but why make it difficult to do so? Before your live webinar, upload your presentation to Slideshare. Include a link to your Slideshare presentation in your live webinar

Contact us to see how we can help you create engaging, shareable webinars, video or in-person presentation.