Don’t Fear Crisis: Prepare Communications Now to Keep Demons at Bay

“Don’t even say something like that! God forbid. Knock on wood.”  How often have we all uttered similar phrases? Almost everyone harbors a niggling fear that by openly discussing the possibility of disaster they’ll somehow call it out of the Universe.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Preparing for crisis – particularly when it comes to composing written communications – is a way to force those demons out into the light. Only then can you watch them shrink down to their true diminutive dimensions.

In that same vein, writing for crisis in advance isn’t about fearmongering. It’s about facing reality and dealing with adversity proactively. Statistically, at some point the dreaded “something bad” will happen. What keeps an unfortunate circumstance from turning into chaos is a well-considered and adaptive plan, including instructions and a prepared set of communications covering the most probable crises your organization may experience.

Being Proactive Keeps Chaos Under Control

If asked by a frightened child, most adults would emphatically state there’s no such thing as the boogeyman. Yet adults harbor those same fears. After leaving both insurance and the military, I earned my MBA and began working for a variety of small businesses, mostly in a logistics and finance capacity.  In every industry, I observed an almost universal resistance to confronting said demons – i.e., discussing and writing about the possibility of crisis.

Yet doing just that can be the difference between chaos and control when an emergency happens. I spent close to a decade in the field of property and liability insurance as a claims examiner. During this same timeframe, I had a parallel military career in the Army Reserves. While they may seem disparate, insurance and military operations have two major commonalities. They often revolve around managing adverse circumstances and they require significant written communications.

Ultimately, written crisis communications have to keep people calm and tell them what to do to stay safe. Beyond that, they also serve the purpose of ensuring operational continuity, as well as legal and regulatory compliance, just to name a few reasons why they should be created well in advance.

The time I spent focused on writing for crisis taught me how very particular a skillset it is. Mastering it took years of cultivation. But if it’s not your forte, don’t worry – at Version A we’re eager to share our expertise.

De-stress with Our B2B Writing Skillset

The effects of stress are generally the same regardless of the specific task you’re trying to accomplish under its influence. Recall a time when you experienced this emotion. Maybe you accidentally set off your home alarm and had to figure out the right series of buttons to silence it, all while your eardrums were blasted with deafening tones. You might remember your hands shook, your thoughts felt confused, and you may have even started to panic.

Do you think you’ll be able to write effectively during the shock and awe of an unexpected crisis? It’s easy to say, “I’ll say what I need to say if the time comes.” Most likely you’ll forget key points and leave out key audience members – I’ve seen it over and again.

It could be a power outage coinciding with a generator failure, or a system upgrade with a glitch that shuts down access for your biggest customer. When rational thought is affected by everything from human emotion to physical darkness, composition becomes a challenge.

While our writers can’t actually hold your hand during these times, we can steady your nerves by ensuring your missives are professionally composed. At Version A, we can write internal and external announcements in advance, or even when a crisis arises. We can compose emails to clients, press releases, talking points, and a host of other communications, so you can focus on resolving the crisis.

Planning ahead – and preparing your written crisis communications now – will eliminate your fears and give you one less thing to do when the time comes to get through an emergency. In closing I’m going to say one thing…

Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. Candyman!

Did you just grimace? It’s ok. Even though I’m not holding a mirror, I know I did as I typed those words! But nothing happened. Nor will it. Fear is what creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Once you finally stop dwelling on those latent dreads you can focus on what’s really important – keeping your organization thriving. Talking or writing about crises shouldn’t be verboten for any organization. Whether you need to pen a newsletter to address a system failure or compose client updates on an ongoing and painful IT process, Version A will help take the fear out of writing for crisis.  

Don’t Fear Crisis: Prepare Communications Now to Keep Demons at Bay

Tara Coughlin

As a writer for Version A, I create content for several of our clients in the technology space. My combined background in liability insurance, military operations, and disaster relief gives me real-world insight into the importance of effective communication, particularly when it comes to logistics and crisis management. When I’m not writing, I play the clarinet. Just kidding! I’m an insatiable traveler and my big picture goal is to see as much of the world as possible. The list is extensive, but my favorite place so far has been the Whitsundays off the east coast of Australia.

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