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Five Lessons in Crisis Communications

Forbes Communications Council: Five Lessons in Crisis Communications

Executive Vice President, Policy and Communications, Ken Nahigian writes on ways to successfully navigate crisis communications

Crises and public relations have always been inextricably intertwined, as effective communications are used to guide and inform the public. Knowledge is power in any crisis, and the ability to feed accurate information through all forms of media can enable the public to learn and assess risk — and ultimately mitigate the impact of the crisis. This, in turn, requires accountability and consistency of message from those communicating and requires responsibility from the public and media to use the information for the singular purpose of overcoming the crisis: nothing more.

Americans are historically known for rallying together against a common adversary, whether it be a natural disaster, a disease outbreak or an act of war. In a crisis, we look to, and place our trust in, those we deem to be the most credible sources of information — like elected leaders, expert officials and communicators from trusted organizations. In exchange, the public expects honest and usable information. This contract between the audience and messengers should be upheld through the life cycle of the crisis to ensure consistency of message and the intended public response.

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