Nerds and Words

Crisis communication plan – what to say and when to shut up

There are times in the life of any business when the communication plan needs to be amended. Whatever the case – new products, new management, or global events that are confusing for everyone, one thing is certain: it’s not the time to disappear – more on that later.

And because something tells us that most businesses (especially small ones) have no experience in developing crisis communication plans, we’ve come up with some ideas for you.


What to do when the unpredictable hits you

We shouldn’t hide

Whatever the issue or the need for change, it is important to stay put – in a well-thought, healthy way. Your customers want to know that they can rely on you, even when things aren’t looking particularly good for you. No matter what the situation is, choose to communicate openly and transparently with your audience.

If neither the bumps on the road nor the new context are directly connected to you, your approach doesn’t change at all – you are still needed in the front lines. Find out what is going on, understand the situation and tell your customers exactly what you know; let them know you acknowledge this is a challenging time, that you are doing everything you can, that you’ll get through it #together. That’s how you build trusting relationships with people – in for an inch, in for a mile.

An excellent example of how „not” to do things is the famous Germanwings 9525.


We shouldn’t try to make conversions right now

There is such a thing as „deadweight loss”. It means you need to accept that sometimes you will lose some money, clients, opportunities – and there is nothing you can do to prevent this.

Therefore, if your audience is going through a vulnerable period, do not try to sell them your products/services right that very moment. If you do, they will be disappointed by your lack of empathy and will avoid supporting you in the future – in their eyes, you will turn from a humane brand into some cynical entity, and you will send the message that all you want is to make money, no matter the circumstances.


We shouldn’t raise prices now, even if it can be very profitable

We’ve all been there – there’s a storm coming and suddenly the price of shovels is five times higher. In the end, it makes sense, right? Well, not really.

Profit definitely increases exponentially in times of crisis, especially if you are lucky enough to provide the service/product needed at that time. But this is a short-term gain – in the long run, your audience will remember what you did during the crisis.

So once the tense moments pass and things return to normal, the public will perceive your business in a negative way, which will generate major losses for you in the long run.

A relevant and timely example here.


Encourage the right behaviors and discourage fake news

No matter the size of your business, there are people who are watching you; they are looking for answers and seeking guidance.

We believe it is the responsibility of each brand to encourage the correct behaviors and discourage those that cause panic, anger, and self-centeredness. In times of crisis, we must all stick together, to support and help one another as much as possible.

Moreover, this is a good communication plan because it shows that you are involved in your community, that you are a brand that cares for its people.


We shouldn’t give up communication efforts completely

In times of crisis, when your business starts to be affected, it is normal to try to cut down on your costs. Of course, the Marketing department is often the first to suffer in such cases.

However, experts recommend not making any hasty decisions. 1990-1991 is a concrete example: during the recession, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell took advantage of reducing McDonald’s marketing budgets. As a result, Pizza Hut sales increased by 61%, Taco Bell sales 40%, and McDonald’s sales decreased by 28%. More details here.

As mentioned above, being active and transparent, especially in times of crisis, is vital for your relationship with the customer. The communication plan needs to be improved, amended, restructured – but the marketing budget should never be cut down completely.



Today we discussed crisis communication – what to do and what not to do, how to make smart decisions when we are scared.

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