When facing a crisis, should you respond with your head or your heart? A PR colleague argues for both, and with good reason.
A stiff response or an overly emotional response can erode, not build, trust — which is the critical measure of success in crisis communication. An effective response must combine a caring reaction with a rational set of actions.
Joan Gladstone, who gives strategic communications counsel to clients from her San Diego base, says people affected by a crisis want more than timely, transparent information. They want to know you care. And they want to know you are doing everything possible to end the crisis and prevent it from recurring. They want assurances you are treating the victims with respect.
This requires a response from both the heart and the head.
Empathy can go a long way toward establishing a bridge between the crisis response messenger and the people paying attention. The absence of empathy sends an even louder message. Failing to express sympathy or remorse can be seen as uncaring, disregard or indifference. A simple phone call to victims or their family members can speak volumes.