Amanda Evans – Building Blocks for Effective Crisis Comms

Most plans work best with a clear strategy – and crisis management is no different. 

Imagine a tower built with clearly defined blocks. With a shaky foundation and without all the crucial blocks in place, the tower will inevitably crash to the floor.

Responsibility, showing concern and collaboration are three of the most important parts of the plan. All intertwined and each with its role to play.

Here I look in more detail at the next three points from my top-10 series on how to successfully manage a crisis.

Take Responsibility

It seems like a logical next step and the right thing to do. However, there have been countless examples where businesses and individuals have simply played the blame game and shifted the onus elsewhere.

Hiding behind lame excuses simply doesn’t cut it and you have to own it. 

It’s only when you do so, that you can then start working on repairing reputations. Stepping forward and being transparent is the quickest and smartest way of regaining trust. It also demonstrates accountability.

Taking responsibility during a crisis shows empathy towards those affected by the situation. It acknowledges the impact on individuals, customers, employees, and the community. By expressing genuine concern and taking appropriate actions, the company demonstrates that it values the well-being and satisfaction of its stakeholders.

Toyota faced a crisis when numerous cases of unintended acceleration in their vehicles were reported in 2010. The company took responsibility by issuing a recall of affected vehicles, conducting thorough investigations, and implementing enhanced safety measures to regain customer trust.

Taking responsibility is often the first step towards resolving a crisis. It allows the organisation to address the issue directly, investigate the root causes, and take corrective measures. By accepting responsibility, the company signals its commitment to rectifying the situation and preventing similar incidents in the future.

Show Concern

Being human and expressing genuine emotion and concern when a crisis hits is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it can be the complete opposite. Being empathic may not come easily to some but in a crisis, it sends a message to the world that the situation is being taken seriously. When it comes to reputation building, it’s more likely that trust will be secured if there has been some form of accountability.

If, for example, a pharmaceutical company recalls a medication due to a potential safety issue and then they express deep concern for the health and well-being of patients in their communication. They then promise a thorough investigation and provide clear instructions for affected individuals. They also establish channels for open dialogue and feedback to address any concerns.  By showing genuine concern, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to their customers, employees, and communities. This helps strengthen existing relationships and build trust even during challenging times.

It also helps to humanise the organisation. It reminds stakeholders that there are real people behind the brand who care about their well-being. It creates a sense of connection and empathy, fostering a more positive perception of the organisation.

Building trust and confidence by having consideration for those impacted by the crisis and affected by the situation acknowledges the effect on individuals, customers, employees, and the community.


Working with stakeholders to find solutions to the crisis will help to establish trust and support. Collaboration during crisis communications is important because it fosters transparency, brings diverse perspectives and expertise to the table, and builds trust.

If during a cybersecurity breach, a company forms a cross-functional response team involving IT, legal, and communications departments, this will present a unified front. 

They can then collaborate to assess the impact, gather accurate details about the breach, and collectively develop a transparent communication plan  to address the issue. 

The organisation then builds trust by providing consistent and reliable information to stakeholders.

Another bonus of this plan of action allows different departments or experts within an organisation to contribute their knowledge and insights, leading to a more comprehensive understanding of the crisis. By working together, teams can gather and verify information, ensuring that the communication is accurate and consistent.

When different teams collaborate and align their efforts, they can develop effective strategies, prioritise actions, and address the needs of stakeholders in a timely manner. 

Stakeholder engagement and participation is also crucial. Listening to their concerns, and seeking their input, organisations can build trust by demonstrating that their perspectives and needs are valued and taken into account.

All this working together also helps with messaging and keeping consistent. It means that a  cohesive narrative can be developed that reflects the organisation’s values, goals, and commitment to addressing the crisis and shows that the organisation speaks with one voice and is committed to transparency.

What is very clear is that there’s a lot of cross-over within any crisis plan. For any strand to work, each has to be executed effectively.