Crisis comms takeaways from notable calamities and missteps

Running the gamut from merely lousy customer service to the tragic events of 9/11, these cases studies offer lessons—citing positive and negative examples—for messaging amid turmoil.

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During a crisis, every word matters, and timing matters even more.

What the message is, how it gets told, by whom, and even the communications channel used may separate great from disastrous communications. Poorly executed communication could seed confusion or panic, crush employee morale, and negatively impact productivity.

Studies have shown that leaders have a special role in reducing employee anxiety. In a Harvard University study of crisis communication after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many employees described the importance of hearing from the leader.

Here’s a deep dive into the lessons learned from research and case studies of well-known crises (such as 9/11 and the 2008 recession), and how you, as a communications leader, can ensure exceptional communication and empower your team to move forward.

Here are several striking examples of crisis communication; some provide excellent lessons in communication, and others teach what to avoid.

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