During a crisis situation, it is imperative that the individuals involved communicate with each other effectively and efficiently. With coordinated communication, lives may be saved and trust may be fostered. The Incident Command System’s design is highly organized and therefore applicable to any crisis management team. The roles are delegated according to individual titles and sections. Before implementation, preparedness is essential. Efforts for public communication engage long before incidents or planned events. Gathering resources, training, organizing, and participating in exercises facilitates the development of safety procedures like evacuation and alerts. Communication is present at this preliminary phase as well, because coordination, timeliness, and consistency cannot be achieved without it.
With the technological achievements of today’s age, organizations are fortunate to be able to communicate through a wide range of mediums and reach far more individuals in far less time. According to FEMA’s description of ICS, “Methods of communicating with the public may include the use of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Web sites, hotlines, amateur radio, and other alerting messaging systems,” (6). These resources make the establishment of a crisis situation much easier and the instructions on how to react more readily available for introduction.
By establishing an Incident Commander who oversees the management of incidents and then delegating smaller administrative and executive roles to a Public Information Officer, Safety Officer, and Liaison Officer, the ICS is structured with clear objectives. This integrated coordination provides an inherent framework for open dialogue, which then spreads and ensures a seamless operation through crisis situations. Unity is a byproduct of this model, which is an effective example of the way communication works effectively during crises.
TJ Walker reminds viewers that these crisis scenarios are unexpected and can happen to any organization at any time, which is why the individuals in positions of supervision of an organization must be prepared to first identify what is happening and then what action will be taken. It is important to stand accountable and to not hide, according to Walker. Rather than having all the answers immediately, management must be transparent about the current plan of action. “It’s the secrecy that gets us into trouble,” says Walker in his video, “Crisis Communications | The Complete Crisis Communications Overview.” The implication of this statement is that communication is what will ultimately save organizations from public assumptions and opinions. It is better to convey the nature of what is happening than to try minimizing risk by saying as little as possible. Transparency suggests there is nothing to hide. Supervisors must consider the immediate reactions of employees and the public and try to mitigate their concerns. Walker emphasizes the necessity for getting the team together as soon as crises unfold. United efforts and communication do the most work for resolving these incidents.
To assess how one handles a crisis, or how ready one is to handle a potential crisis, the crisis communication checklist is helpful. It sets up questions that allow a spokesperson to conduct a self-assessment and determine their level of success communicating. There are 38 specific questions that address every aspect of effective communication, so the checklist is useful at every level of communication skill development. My uncle recently underwent a crisis within his company, and he was at risk for needing to tell all his employees they no longer had jobs. Through the process of saving their careers and his own, he knew he must be transparent with them and keep open communication. He used a checklist similar to the one provided in class and said it served as a reminder for him to maintain openness and strategies on how to do so. His employees expressed gratitude and appreciated the mutual respect my uncle fostered through his adherence to the principles of communication during a crisis.
It is evident that the most effective way to navigate through crisis events is to maintain communication with employees, the public, and the press. Only through open dialogue can resolutions be reached and trust be established.