You Can Bank on This Crisis Communications Toolkit
In the finance world, bad news travels fast, and rumors travel even faster. All PR professionals know that in a crisis situation, every second you’re not actively participating in the conversation is a strike against you. Given the turbulence of the banking sector over the last few weeks, it seems as good a time as any for a refresher in crisis communication management.
Below, we’ve outlined eight guidelines that all FinComm pros should follow when planning for and responding publicly to organizational emergencies.
Public Relations Should be a Part of Your Risk Management
It’s important for financial services organizations to bring communications professionals to the decision-making table. Scenario planning should always include the communications team perspective and consider reputational impact.
Companies should lead the way with messaging, assuring their customers, and explaining their financial standing. This helps get ahead of questions your constituencies may have. In the past, we’ve seen instances where companies did not communicate soon enough and it hurt them in the long run (see: Equifax).
Build Trust Through Communications (Before an Issue Arises)
The best time to build trust is during periods of business as usual, from the C-suite to relationship managers. Communicate regularly and have your name and organization’s brand be one that your constituencies are already familiar with. That way, when issues do arise, the communications don’t feel jarring or one-off, but instead a continuation of the dialogue you’ve always been having with customers.
Own Your Narrative
In looking at recent events, it’s clear that sometimes just filing an 8K is not enough. Communicating how the event or decision ties back to business goals, and how it may impact your constituencies, can be critically important.
Think Like a Customer
When you consider the details of what to communicate in a crisis situation, consider what you would want to know and understand as a customer. Address the situation from their perspective, which will vary depending on the type of customer and their specific relationship with you.
Consider All of Your Stakeholders
It’s not just customers and investors you need to keep an open line of communication with. Business partners, vendors, contractors, and your own employees – these are all stakeholders that will want (and deserve) ongoing conversation around the crisis and steps being taken to address it.
Context is King
What’s the environment you are delivering this message in? At the time of writing, economic volatility and high inflation is impacting the mindset (and wallets) of many, and that context is a critical consideration when financial services companies communicate..
Arm Your Frontline Employees
From branch representatives and customer support teams to private bankers and call centers, enable your ambassadors to answer questions they receive confidently. This means empowering them with a deeper understanding than a simple script can convey.