Poll: How should top executives respond to a crisis?

Most respondents think it’s ‘important’ for CEOs to communicate directly with the public via social media when calamity strikes, but is it worth the risk?

How CEOS should respond to crises

The last thing most leaders want to do amid a smoldering crisis is typically the first thing they should do—communicate.

The question is: What’s the best way to tiptoe through tender times?

Signal Leadership Communication’s recent poll of 1,000 Canadians found that 61 percent of respondents think it’s “important” for CEOs to communicate on social media during a crisis. However, “Fifty-three percent say that when a company has a crisis, CEOs should ‘communicate primarily through their public relations team communicating with journalists in the media.’”

Respondents also offered guidance regarding CEO messaging, should they choose to pipe up. According to Signal Leadership Communication:

Almost two in three Canadians (65 percent) feel that it is important (33 percent) or somewhat important (32 percent) for CEOs to use social media to “share updates about the problem” when a company has a crisis.

Sharing updates about the problem, yes. Personal pontifications, not so much:

Meanwhile, more than half of Canadians (53 percent) think that it is unimportant (30 percent) or somewhat unimportant (23 percent) for CEOs to use social media to “explain how he or she feels about the problem” when a company has a crisis.

So, what’s a crisis communicator or PR pro to do? Of course, it depends on the crisis, and it hinges on the messaging mettle of your CEO.

Is he or she exceedingly wise, empathetic and skilled at striking the right notes, even in stressful situations? If so, his or her communicating directly with the public via social media could help defuse a potentially explosive crisis.

If your leader is a messaging maverick, let the PR pros do the talking. The public face of an organization is not always the best public voice, so plan accordingly.

Read the rest of Signal Leadership Communication’s findings here.

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