Crisis Management: Challenges Affecting Crisis Communication

Corporate Communications
Crisis Management: Challenges Affecting Crisis Communication 11.02.20

Creating an effective crisis management plan can be a hard task for any communication team. Not only because of risks associated with potential crises—including everything from the damage of reputation to loss of key customers—but because creating a detailed crisis communications plan for an unknown event is a challenge.

Facing these challenges, many communication teams prefer to bury their heads in the sand and wait for a crisis to happen before making an appropriate communication plan. But, studying well-known crises—among them Lance Armstrong, Virginia Tech, BP, and Dreamworld—crisis communication teams should learn that waiting until the last minute to plan for one is the worst strategy of all.

Learning from past crises, the first step towards winning during crisis situations is acknowledging what the company is facing. By identifying challenges to crisis communication, brands can identify strategies to overcome them.

student, typing, keyboard

PR Overview

Lack of Visibility

Despite having a great message, it can be a challenge to reach a target audience. Reaching an audience isn’t dependent on message templates or updated contact lists that a crisis communication team has. Rather, visibility is dependent on a proactive approach that involves deploying communication technologies before crises.

With communication technology, crisis management teams can monitor in real time who engages with a message and who doesn’t. With tracking software, communication teams can rise above the lack of visibility by identifying key stakeholders’ actions and adopting the right strategy to reach them.

When a crisis hits, timely response to key stakeholders is far more important. Without visibility, a brand employs misinformed strategies at the wrong time, worsening the situation. However, crisis communication teams can adopt a myriad of information-tracking software, enabling them to tailor their strategies for a specific crisis or seek expert guidance from professionals who have already dealt with these issues.

Having a carefully crafted crisis communication plan in place means that the teams dealing with the crisis would employ key insights to reach target audiences with no delay, maximizing their reach and limiting the effects of lack of visibility.

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Often, when crises strike, boatloads of information become available to whoever is responsible for crisis communications. With information flying in from different angles, crisis communication teams face another problematic issue: low-quality information.

Information Overload

During a crisis, communication teams are bombarded with an information overload. This vast influx of data, while potentially valuable, poses the challenge of differentiating pertinent information from irrelevant details. The information overload complicates the communication plan, making it imperative for teams to effectively filter and prioritize data to ensure critical insights are not lost in the middle of all that chaos. Crisis communications strategies must address this issue to maintain clarity and effectiveness.

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Not Enough Information

Conversely, the issue of not having enough information presents a stark contrast to information overload. This scenario sees crisis communication teams facing a lack of actionable intelligence, making it challenging to formulate precise and impactful messages. The scarcity of information underscores the need for robust mechanisms to gather and verify data, ensuring the team isn’t navigating through a crisis blindly. This highlights the essential role of internal communications and communication needs assessment in crisis management.

Severed Crisis Communications Paths and Channels

A critical, often underestimated aspect of crisis management is the organization and maintenance of communication paths and channels. The disruption or loss of these communication channels can significantly impair the team’s ability to reach other stakeholders, exacerbating the crisis at hand. Ensuring the resilience of communication infrastructures and having alternative channels in place is crucial for maintaining visibility and engagement during a crisis. This is where the integration of emergency response and public relations strategies becomes vital.

social media, social, marketing

The Unpredictability of a Future Crisis

At the heart of every crisis is its inherent unpredictability, which challenges preconceived plans and strategies. The unique and evolving nature of each crisis demands a flexible and adaptive approach from your side. This is where a PR agency can come into play.

Having an already prepared professional on your side will enable you to swiftly pivot and catch your balance in the whirlwind of unfolding events. It’s like having a navigator in the storm; they know the waters and can steer you clear of the rocks. A good PR agency can untangle the mess of incoming information, helping you decide what to say, how to say it, and who needs to hear it first. 

Imagine trying to piece together a puzzle in the dark — well, they’re the ones flipping the switch on.

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