Emergency Communication Strategy: 4 Ways To Help Your Brand Stay Clear and Present In a Crisis

Published May 13, 2020

In a time of crisis, it’s hard to know where to start or slow down enough to craft a strategy.

Sometimes, it’s easier to wait and “read the room.”

The tendency to wait, however, can cause organizations to fall behind the communication curve, jeopardizing brand loyalty and potentially causing consumers to perceive a lack of communication as a lack of empathy: “Where’s my credit union when I need them?” 

That’s why having an emergency communication strategy in place is essential. Just like reaching out to a friend in time of need, think of your communication strategy as a way to ask your membership, “How are you doing?” and “How can I help?” 

“The best marketing strategy ever: care.”

Gary Vaynerchuck,  entrepreneur, author, and speaker.

As a strategic partner to many credit unions over the years, we’ve walked alongside our clients in moments of crisis and used our team’s expertise to develop communication plans to help marketing teams tackle each message with confidence.

Gathering around a resource or tool like Edge's Emergency Communication Strategy is essential to the process.

A communication strategy helps teams put a plan in place, lead discussions and efforts toward hitting all of the appropriate channels and ensures key messages are not missed.

This simple, yet powerful resource will help springboard an idea into a strategy.

We’ve compiled four key approaches to help you tackle crisis communications smoothly:

1) Avoid fear based marketing

Lead with an empathetic, hopeful message. Even if you don’t have all of the information or answers, members and non-members alike will appreciate a warm message that communicates they're not alone - you’re in this with them.

That could look like a video from your CEO addressing the emergency and sent through your most active channels. Email and social media are great for this first message. 

It’s not a question of whether to help members, it’s determining which products and services can help members most.

2) Get on the same page internally

Whether it’s a local disaster or global pandemic it’s important to move quickly and develop tools that will help members continue and even thrive through the crisis.

Aligning with your operations and retail teams is important during this time. Many credit unions in times of crisis offer emergency loans at low rates.

Some even offer special payment options with specific terms like no payments for 30 days.

Other CU services may become even more useful such as skip a payment, digital branch services, financial education tools, increased customer service times, etc. 

People helping people. That’s the Credit Union spirit and culture and that’s what we love about them. It’s not a question of whether to help members, it’s determining which products and services can help members most.

3) Get the stuff out there - quickly & efficiently

The quickest approach to sharing marketing messages is to start with the website.

Once the essential information such as branch closures or updated hours are on the website, move on to helpful and explanatory content.

Start with a blog message or landing page with details and instructions, then use that content to develop other messaging for different channels. 

We offer copywriting and strategy coupled with tools to help your team succeed in your marketing efforts.

If your team is stuck on how to move forward, let us help. We'll align your team's strategy to effectively get your message out to the right people.

4) Stay stable and reliable

Keeping your website in tip-top shape should be top-of-mind prior to any emergency. Your website is the face of your organization - the first impression.

If your website's design or functionality is hindering the influx of new users from finding the info they need, then this will need to be remedied.

Not only are existing members accessing the website more for basics like online banking, but prospective members are searching for financial help in the form of loans, counseling and services.

A Response or Resources Page may be a great way to lead existing and new users alike to the most important information. While in a crisis, things can change quickly. Therefore, this is a great way to keep information timely, current and relevant.

Increased website traffic, especially from people who aren’t regular visitors, presents an opportunity to better understand people’s experiences with the site.

Use your analytics software to explore users’ behavior flow patterns to see where people are getting stuck or dropping out.

Keep an eye on your organic keywords in Google Search Console, while using Analytics to keep abreast of shifting trends.

Use your data to pivot your creative messaging and surface the resources that are most relevant and helpful to your audience.

Once things get to a stable place, take on those items first through small adjustments and improvements. Keep a running list of bigger projects to tackle later.

Agility and quick response is really the name of the game in communicating during a crisis. But it's also just as important the response carries a sensitive and hopeful tone. We hope the Emergency Communication Strategy tool will help align your team to provide relevant, timely, and effective messaging where needed.

Edge offers the strategy and tools to help your marketing team succeed. If you're stuck, we can help align and develop your team to effectively get the right message to the right people.

Tackle Each Message with Confidence

This entry was posted with significant contributions from fellow Edgers: Austi Baudro & Matt Neznanski// Photo credit: iStock