Hatch Communication


It has been an unbelievably interesting couple of weeks for the world and the communication industry at large. Watching brands, leaders and companies respond to the situation and seeing some of the communications doing the rounds have been particularly insightful and alarming. It just emphasised the importance of a communications and public relations team during a time of crisis, which is responsible for developing and delivering consistent and clear messaging to all stakeholders affected, including employees, customers, media, manufacturers, vendors, shareholders, boards of directors etc. Companies must, if they have not done so already, establish a robust communications strategy that clearly defines processes and protocols on how to communicate and engage with their specific stakeholders.

By standardising your approach, statements and key messages you avoid running the risk of incorrect and possible detrimental messaging getting distributed about your business, both externally and internally.

“Effective communications during any crisis are crucial to maintaining customer trust, restoring employee morale and confidence, and retaining market stability. While companies have a communications strategy and designated points of contact to engage with internal and external stakeholders, oftentimes the messaging is inconsistent and untimely. For companies that have both retail and corporate customers, consistent messaging is key. All channels must reconcile (e.g., social media, customer call centres, public relations releases).” – COVID 19: Confidently navigate through the coronavirus crisis.

According to a recent article by PwC, the three key participants at the heart of any crisis response includes:

Public relations and communications teams. They’re responsible for developing and delivering the organisation’s messaging internally and externally.

Legal and regulatory teams. Their role is to understand the organisation’s risk exposures and to advise on appropriate responses.

Operational response teams. They essentially handle everything else – including establishing the facts that the other two groups need to do their jobs.


I find it interesting to see how brands and businesses are responding to the situation, much like being an introvert or extrovert. While some are observing, focusing internally on “getting their house in order”, communicating the minimum, others are vocal and publicly sharing their every move. At the heart of it, we are all experiencing a lot of the same emotions: uncertainty, anxiety, frustration etc. and not entirely sure how to deal with all of this. Now is the time to focus on our connections and community’s questions and by delivering meaningful content, position your brand and company as a source of support. It is also impossible to separate social media from your other communication channels.

Most crises your brand will face start and pick up steam online. With that in mind, it’s important that every level and function of your organisation understand the primacy and power of social media for managing a crisis.

Why is social media critical for crisis communications?

It’s fast. In a matter of minutes, a single message can make its way around the globe. The rapid spread of information on social media is both an opportunity and a challenge for your brand in times of crisis.

It’s direct. Recent research shows that 86% of consumers believe transparency from businesses is more important than ever before — social media gives you a direct channel to share your brand’s position with your customers and community.

It’s a powerful data source. Brands can aggregate data from millions of social messages and derive actionable intelligence with social listening tools. This gives communicators a real-time way to assess a crisis, understand its timeline and inform appropriate next steps for the business, on- and offline.

It’s the first touchpoint. According to the Pew Research Center, more American adults get their news from social media than ever; in fact, more than half get their news from social media often or sometimes. It is often the first place people hear about a crisis and where they watch it play out in realtime.

It’s everywhere. Internet users worldwide spend, on average, 144 minutes a day on social media, and the number of social media users worldwide is expected to surpass three billion in 2020.

It is imperative that social media professionals are part of planning a brand’s crisis response.

Whether you’re the leader of a social team, a solo social media manager or a communications professional wearing many hats, your understanding of this important channel will inform an integrated, customer-centric communications plan. – via Sprout


“With multiple pathways to the consumer and countless parties involved, there can only be one relationship that truly counts – the one directly between brand and consumer. Brands, however, will have to earn the right to own the consumer relationship. As with any relationship, connecting on shared values is foundational. To win loyalty and trust, brands need to build a connection with consumers that is meaningful, personal and authentic.” Meaningful brands Connecting with the consumer.

I would like to put my own twist on this extract from the Deloitte report:

With multiple ways to communicate with your employees, suppliers and customers, there can only be one relationship that truly counts – the one directly between you and them. You, your company and brand, however, will have to earn the right to be in the relationship. As with any relationship, connecting on shared values is foundational. To gain loyalty and trust, you need to build a connection with all of your stakeholders that is meaningful, personal and authentic. Don’t ignore the one for the other. And please, now is not the time to keep quiet;  your people, your suppliers and your customers depend on you.

Written by: Diani Smit, CEO and Founder of Hatch Communication