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Best of HR – Berufebilder.de®Sereina Schmidt is an entrepreneur, consultant, sparring partner and speaker.Sereina Schmidt, MSc. com, did her Masters in Communication Science in Lugano. Among other things, she worked as a communications officer in the Federal Department of Economics (Federal Councilor Doris Leuthard) or as a crisis communicator for a large company. At the same time, she received further training on the subject of change management and organizational development at the Northwestern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences. When she took over the family business, a communications agency, she decided to become an entrepreneur herself in 2012.

Crisis Management & Communication: Using Rhetoric and the Power of the Word - 3 X 7 Tips

There is a fine line between success and failure in the crisis. Communication in the team and with customers is essential, but it is always important to strike the right tone. It's all about emotions.

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Communication is important - especially in times of crisis

Unfortunately, many “forget” Company in surprising and unusual crisis situations, how important communication - internally and externally - is. They are so preoccupied with themselves and the immediate acute problems that they do not pay attention to remain visible through information to the outside and to convey closeness and connection. Because even when facts matter, in the end it is the emotions that count.

Take the corona crisis, for example, a topic that dominated the global news for months, economically and socially. The messages companies send out are particularly important. But the crux: If companies now announce numbers, data, facts, they will be ignored at best, but very likely even criticized.

You can only face a crisis in a team - 7 tips

This would be particularly important in order to jointly counter the characteristics of a crisis (whether caused by corona or another trigger):

  1. Attention to the element of surprise: A crisis often comes as a surprise, even if some are apparent in advance. It is incomparable, ie there are no empirical values.
  2. Recognize complexity: You are immediately affected, the situation appears complex.
  3. Counter lack of self-efficacy: The scope for action is very limited, it can develop dynamically.
  4. Create routine: Daily business is severely affected. Create routines.
  5. Counter stress: The situation has an absorbing effect, so it requires the full commitment of everyone with extraordinary time pressure.
  6. Find information: The interest in comprehensive information is growing enormously, so there is a high level of media attention.
  7. Reschedule: The event triggers serious short or long-term consequences. You need new strategies.

Creative solutions: in unusual times please no standard!

Companies and the self-employed are rightly shown a lot of solidarity. We know that the crisis affects us all. Companies are now pulling out the standard advertising campaign, but this is often not approved. By the way, especially not if it is an industry that benefits from the situation. No wonder that many, if not all, companies are asking themselves: What should we do communicatively in this extraordinary situation?

Companies are unsure of what to communicate when marketing is hardly or only partially possible. What else do they have to communicate when the business or the service company can no longer function as expected? But it won't get any easier in the first phase after the crisis. Creativity is required here, even if time is sometimes short.

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Find ideas, use new ways

The fact is: there is hardly a better time for public relations! Attention is rarely higher. A crisis means an opportunity for everyone in the field of communication. The chance to try out new things and draw our attention to us, to go different ways and to partially adapt services or even to completely reinvent them.

Entrepreneurs and the self-employed must be clear: You cannot change everything with crisis communication. But in many cases you can at least turn customers into allies. This is precisely what is extremely valuable at this time. Supposedly "great ideas", such as a "Corona discount campaign" can quickly turn out to be a painful boomerang. You'd better tell about yourself. Tell us what you and your employees are doing. Tell us what you are planning or what everyday life is like and what it looks like now.

Turning customers into allies - 7 tips:

I have listed 7 tips for what this could look like:

  1. Provide insights into the company: Use the time and, for example, make a video series about what is currently happening in the company. Or let the employees talk about their everyday life and what they are busy with.
  2. Giving customers tips for at home: Provide online tips for your service - for example, a cosmetic studio that shows in the corona crisis how the facial skin can be cared for at home with the simplest of means.
  3. Further education: Show what is new in the market and which internal training courses you are taking to prepare for the changes.
  4. Customer loyalty: Be generous with subscriptions, increase and simplify testing options etc.
  5. Show complexity: Explain in statements and videos how you now have to plan differently and what this means for you logistically. Show why your service is complex and why it takes time.
  6. Include employees: Show what your employees are doing, explain what short-time work means and how you deal with it.
  7. Vouchers for the future: Issue vouchers for future achievements now, the symbolic first glass of Prosecco, if you can celebrate with your guests again in the future.

Be generous, not just emotional - 7 tips

Public relations always have the goal of generating understanding, explaining something, informing, optimizing or strengthening the image. Crisis communication is the highest of the communication disciplines. If companies and entrepreneurs are now open, but above all show an attitude, it will pay off in the long term. So be sure to continue communicating - but please, correctly! The following rules help:

  1. To be generous: Be generous with yourself and the others.
  2. Authenticity: Remain (or become) authentic. This means that communication must suit you and your company, only then will you be credible.
  3. Show values: Show your values ​​how you think and act.
  4. Be honest: Stick to the truth.
  5. Think positive: Stay positive, which means you can explain the difficult situation, but do not charge third parties or accusations.
  6. Stay in solidarity: Show compassion. Arrogance and arrogance are devastating.
  7. Show emotions: Avoid pure numbers, data, facts. Bring emotions and service.

Incidentally, these rules apply to both external and internal communication.

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