Communicating in a Crisis
During a crisis, it’s necessary to carefully choose the words you use. Whether your business is trying to explain something that’s gone awry or you’re responding to a global crisis, well-chosen language will help you take control, while choosing your words poorly can escalate an incident into a PR disaster.
According to Media First, here are six phrases you shouldn’t use during a crisis:
We apologize if… — This roughly translates to “we think you’re being oversensitive but we want this story to go away.”
Mistakes were made — It’s better to say “we made a mistake,” rather than seem like you’re trying to dodge responsibility.
This will not happen again — You don’t know that for certain; this can be fodder for future embarrassment.
Our thoughts are with… — Yes, you want to show people you care, but this lacks sincerity and compassion (like “sending our thoughts and prayers”).
Deeply concerned — Like the phrase above, this seems generic rather than meaningful or impactful.
I’m not sure but I would guess — Never speculate; stick to the facts that are known at the time.
Two other phrases I find overused today to the point of not having much impact are “we’re all in this together” and “we’ll get through this.” I suggest more creative word choices.
A Valuable Book
Are you prepared to take care of your aging parents? Drawing from his experiences as a financial planner and son who cared for both parents before their deaths, Morgan Smith has written an extremely helpful book — Generation Squeezed™: A Holistic Guide for Taking Care of Aging Parents — that focuses on the whole host of things you need to do to take care of your parents and yourself. I had the honor of editing it. Check it out at here or on Amazon.
It’s a common and proper practice to introduce an acronym by defining it on the first reference, and then using it alone on subsequent references, e.g., Small Business Administration (SBA). A troubling trend I’ve seen lately is people using quote marks around the acronym, like this: (“SBA”). Not sure who started doing that, but it’s totally unnecessary.