On a Ledge

Crafting communications during a crisis can feel a lot like walking on a ledge.

You see the path, but know that one misstep could be fatal. So, how do you keep moving ahead and avoid a disastrous stumble? With proper planning and the courage of your convictions. Only then can you reach the destination with your life or reputation intact.

As an avid hiker with acrophobia, I’ve had to learn how to steady myself on cliff-hugging, curse-inducing treks. The trail to Grinnell Glacier in Montana’s Glacier National Park was my latest heart-racing, wobbly-legs adventure. But, I did it anyway and have the photos to prove it.

Two survival techniques I use on the trails can easily apply to your own crisis communications.

Prepare for the Worst

Before hitting a trail, it’s important to read about the hike, analyze the map and identify possible challenges. Should you carry bear spray to prevent a grizzly attack? Will there be a bridgeless creek crossing? Before a crisis happens in your organization, develop a crisis communications plan. Include your worst-case scenarios, describe what you’ll do and say and who’s in charge. The need for crisis communications is on the rise, according to Forbes.

Be Courageous and Compassionate  

Hiking can be dangerous, especially when you share a narrow trail with others. How do you cross the ledge when someone is coming from the opposite direction? There’s a trail etiquette about who has the right of way, which ensures everyone’s safety. Likewise, in a crisis, you put human needs first. Be compassionate about victims and the effect of the crisis on your audiences. Follow an ethical compass to protect others and your brand.

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