Leveraging Video in Times of Crisis

Your company is facing a crisis. It may be difficult, but the best thing to do is to address the situation. Sincere and heartfelt apologies go a long way toward laying a crisis to rest. And what’s key is to keep being you during the process. Under extreme situations, video can calm nerves and answer burning questions about what’s next.

Don’t Panic

Your tribe will be looking to you to calm their fear. Communicate clearly that there is a way out of the problem. Give your video viewers a sense of hope.

Be Direct

Tell viewers exactly what occurred, including the when, where, and why. Tell people what’s going on in that moment in time, and keep them in the loop as the situation progresses. You’ll gain the confidence of your people and stay in sync with their interests.

Speak from the Heart

This is not the time to be polished and slick. Be yourself, be authentic. Imagine the crisis involves a loved one or a good friend. How would you break the news? Be aware of your body posture. Don’t slump, stand tall. Don’t look like you are trying to hide.

Be Aware of Context

Pay attention to your language and the context in which you’re delivering your message. Yes, speak from the heart, but remember that there is a time and place for everything. When BP CEO Tony Hayward apologized for the destruction his company’s oil spill brought to the Gulf Coast in 2010, his message was sincere, but his timing was all wrong.

He starts strong by saying, “I’m sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives,” speaking of the people affected by the spill. But he lost all credibility when he went on to say, “There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I’d like my life back.”

Those five words spurred a PR nightmare. Nobody felt sympathy for the inconvenienced CEO at a time when lives were being destroyed because of his company’s mistake. Sincerity matters, but not if you’re tone deaf to the larger issues at stake.

Go Where the Crisis Is

Step away from the corner office and get to the scene of the crisis if you can. You can’t connect with your people if you treat this like a long-distance job. Your presence indicates that you want to be part of the solution, and that you’re willing to do the work with everyone to absolve the crisis.

Bring in Others’ Stories

Seeing people’s responses to a crisis often ignites others’ hope for humanity. It’s incredible to witness how difficult moments can bring out the best in people. Everyday people turn into heroes who do extraordinary things.

Video can be your impetus to tell the heroic stories that unite us and help us understand our common journey. They make us more human. These videos are a reminder that life has more meaning when our actions have a purpose—especially when that purpose is to help others.

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“It’s one thing to understand the role of video in business communication, it’s another to know how to use video to solve actual business problems. Vern Oakley gets that.”


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