The Biggest Disagreement You’ll Have (Communicating in Crisis Course)

When you’re in crisis, what information you have, when you should share it and how much of it you should share will often be a point of conflict. And the answer to all of it is: yes.

To bring clarity, some information you’ll have is not suitable to share publicly and for a variety of reasons is only meant for your internal team. However, the more information you have that is appropriate to share, the more you should share. But how do you share it in a way that serves your messaging well?

When I was a journalist, we didn’t yet have the luxury of the Internet to write 1,000 words for every story. Often we had less than half that many words to communicate what was going on. We used an inverted pyramid technique which meant we would put the biggest, most important information in the headline and fill in details and more information towards the end of the article.

You should use the same approach. Some of your clients and customers will just be interested in the big picture, but others will want varying levels of detail and a depth of information far greater than you might expect. And you should give them everything you can while being mindful of the medium you’re sharing it on.

For example, you may be using email to send regular updates to your customer and clients. However, an email isn’t the right medium to dive deep into details. It should be like that 400 word story when there is enough information for 1,000 words. In the course we speak about creating a central repository for information to be housed. Use your email to create the headline and big picture with several links to the webpage where your customers can get more information if they desire. If you have the ability to get technical, make use of anchor links on your website and link to several headings on the webpage.

Those in your organization who are advocating for sharing just the big headlines because they understand most people have a limited attention span and will only consume small bites of information are correct. However, those who are advocating to share more information as it will aid in building trust and transparency are also correct. You can have both and the secret is to use the mediums you have at your disposal in the right way.

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