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Jeff Matlow
March 30, 2020

Crisis Communication:  When To Communicate

time is nowNow we're going to go through the when (and then the who) of communication.  


When You Need to Communicate 

As we discussed when we talked about why you need to follow best practices with crisis communication, people don't like surprises. 

And we discussed when we talked about leadership during crisis, the worst thing you can do is not make quick decisions.

So if you're sitting around not communicating with people because you're waiting for the right time - well the right time may have already ridden by you while you were blinking.  By not communicating, you are potentially setting yourselves up for having tougher conversations down the road.  And being lambasted on social media. 

cancelledEvents in March and April should already have been canceled or postponed.  May events are doing the same. If you have an event in the next five weeks and you haven't yet communicated with your participants, finish this piece and immediately start writing. 

Here are the guidelines to consider:


Events Greater Than 8 Weeks Away

Include a blurb in your regular newsletter.  Show empathy, acknowledge your desire to keep the event on, explain that you are monitoring the situation and will keep them updated.  Let them know when your next update will be - and stick to that date.  Provide guidance on how to stay healthy. wash hands

If you don't have a regular newsletter and haven't said anything yet, put an email together to let people know what you're thinking.


Events 5 to 8 Weeks Away

If you haven't already, send notes to all participants and sponsors now, letting them know your mindset.  Again....

  • Empathize
  • Be transparent about your decision making process
  • Show strength and guidance
  • Don't conjecture, stick with facts
  • Let them know when you will communicate next

When you get within 4-5 weeks, I'd recommend sending weekly emails.


Events Within 5 Weeks

You better have cancelled or postponed already.  If you haven't yet communicated with your participants and sponsors, you need to make some quick decisions and get something out now.  Like today. 

As above, empathize, be transparent, give guidance and let them know when you will communicate next... then do it on that date.

 If you're within 5 weeks, I'd recommend sending out weekly emails with updates and recommendations.  If you're within 2 weeks of your event, perhaps two emails per week.


Remember, just because you sent out a note, it doesn't mean the crisis is over.  The crisis is only over when your stakeholders tell you it is.  Which leads us right to With Whom You Should Communicate.


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