It was great to see the disaster-recovery articles in the May 19 issue, which addressed a common theme: the importance of communication during crises. With so many audiences needing up-to-date communication?employees, members, boards, regulators, media?it's easy to see why this piece of the recovery-continuity plan attracts much attention. Unfortunately, it is also the piece that presents many challenges.
In our crisis communications work with credit unions, we remind clients that even the best-prepared organizations need to expect the unexpected. Ask credit unions caught in some of the most notable disasters of late?California's wild fires, New England's major blizzard, Nashville's historic flooding?and they will agree.
It's absolutely true that credit unions need a reliable way to get fast-changing messages delivered quickly. But in the rush to get the information out, important issues may be overlooked when it comes to the message itself. Who will be the messenger? And what should they say? Credit unions should designate a key spokesperson, along with backup, to be the public voice during crises. It's also important to set general guidelines on how much information to reveal and the timing of releasing this information. Of course, honesty should always be one's guide. Whether the news is good or bad, it's best to hear it directly from the source.
When it comes to effective communication during crises, both the message and its delivery are critical. Preparation?and flexibility?are key.