• Janna Fite Herbison

How to Communicate During Crisis


There is no conducting business as usual during a national pandemic. Whether you’re a hospital administrator, a grocery store manager, or an event planner, taking care of patients and customers has turned into a whole new reality when it comes to communications.

From tightening restrictions on admissions and visitors to dealing with out-of-stock items, or a cancelled charity dinner, maintaining clear communication during a public health crisis is challenging, but it’s an absolute necessity.


  1. Craft a concise message. Facts only, please. Also, keep it consistent. This is the most important aspect of this process.

  2. Identify your representatives. Your company or organization should have one or two (maximum) spokespersons. Those chosen should be able to communicate to all audiences at any given time. This will include media, customers, patients/clients, and employees.

  3. Make sure your message is communicated internally, too. Not only does clear, internal communication keep workers/staff up to date, it also helps alleviate fear and uncertainty. Your employees are trying their best to operate under very stressful circumstances and appreciate the reassurance. This also accomplishes one other, critical goal. It will help create a calmer, smoother, and more efficient work environment.

When it comes to the media during a crisis, it’s critical to communicate updates as quickly as possible. Stick to the pertinent facts, and keep opinions at bay.


In a health care situation, it is paramount to express empathy and respect for both patients and their families when publicly discussing serious illness or the tragic loss of loved ones. Furthermore, thanking workers on the front lines of treatment isn’t just a must for morale, it conveys necessary respect to employees who are putting themselves at risk.


If possible, being a responsible corporate steward and donating resources or funds to those hurting most during a crisis also goes a long way to help - in the long run.


Make sure you have the same message across media, including social media and your website, coming from one main source. Remember, you want to be consistent.


Community relations and outreach are also a top priority when a mass crisis basically flips a town or even a large city on its head. Between shutdowns and cancelled events, temperaments can often run high. Getting updated information to the public about your new restaurant operations or rescheduled event is the most important step in alleviating confusion. It’s also reassuring for those affected that every step is being taken to minimize loss of money, convenience, and/or time. Nobody, internally or externally, will know this unless you communicate it well.


J. HERBISON COMMUNICATIONS, LLC  janna@jherbisoncomm.com  •  901.568.2080  •  5362 Estate Office Drive, Suite 2, Memphis, TN 38119