Common Sense Crisis Communication Strategies for Online Entrepreneurs

No-one’s looking for a crisis, and especially not me. But human nature and the global climate as it stands suggests it’s not a question in the 21st century if a crisis will occur, but when. Entrepreneurs, whose businesses online and off depend on the changing emotional state of our clients, need to design a communication plan which allows us to respond to rapid change in ways that are authentic and appropriate.OctNovDec2011 089

Why does it matter? Well, let’s just say that after receiving emails from “spiritual” entrepreneurs using the Newtown tragedy in December to sell products or services, I engaged in a massive unsubscribe campaign. My trust hadn’t only been violated, it had been eradicated, and that type of decision is very bad for business.

So here’s a quick checklist of six easy strategies to employ in times of trouble to make certain your business can withstand the changing times, and you stay in integrity with your community of support. The common sense behind these strategies suggests they don’t need a lot of discussion.

If you’re confused, feel free to take a couple of steps back and examine your motivation in life. Because all you really need is love.

1. Stop auto-responders or pre-programmed social media blasts.
Deluging people with optimistic calls to action when they’re reeling from a tragedy could definitely be offensive. Turn them off, and post as a real person with real feelings.

2. Don’t use the crisis or tragedy in a sales letter.
“Invest in my product to show you value your lifestyle in the face of tragedy,” is bad form. Only once have I seen marketing during a time of crisis done well. The launch of a program continued, but the entrepreneur told her readers why she made the choice, supported pertinent discussion within a community forum, and designated a significant chunk of proceeds to help victims of the tragedy. Afterward, there was transparency regarding the donation. Nicely done.

3. Be real in your response.
Honesty is the best policy. Share your feelings if they’re pertinent. And don’t sell, market, or shamelessly self-promote after the heart-felt moment. To do so betrays the intimacy of the moment. Not sure what to say? Wait until the words come.

4. Show up for the work.
If it’s a national crisis, think about what you can do locally to pitch in to help, if not those specific survivors, then others in a similar plight. Then do that. If you don’t know, call United Way and ask where help is needed. Share your direct experience of what it means to help others. Consider short video snippets where you speak your truth directly.

5. Respond publicly.
Got something relevant to say due to particular experience or expertise you carry? Issue a press release and send it over to the daily newspaper which covers your town. Use your knowledge to educate people about what’s happening to their world during a time of crisis, confusion, and deep emotion. Do this from a place of service to the greater good.

6. Leverage your platform to help others.
If your convictions, beliefs, and business are aligned with certain values, speak from that place directly to your community of support. Focus on the human factor. Help get the word out to potential volunteers, fund raisers, donors, and others by sharing how they can compassionately help those in crisis. Talk about how many people you were able to help by pulling everyone together to respond.

 

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