How to Incorporate Video into Your Crisis Communications Plan
Many companies today recognize the importance of crisis planning. Nearly 7 in 10 business leaders experienced a crisis over a period of five years, and 45% have a documented crisis communications plan.
The key principle in crisis plans has always been speed: catch the story before it breaks so you can control the narrative. However, smartphones and social media have changed all of that. Not only will the public often hear about the crisis before you, they’re already discussing it and deciding what you should do before you respond.
Today’s crises need more than responsive communication; they need authentic communication. They need video.
Unlike written statements and press releases, video affords less room for misinterpretation. Simply adding human elements like voice tone and body language can turn an impersonal statement into a warm message. If the world of anonymous internet trolls has taught us anything, it’s that it’s easier to argue when your opponent doesn’t have a face.
Developing a video strategy for crisis communication puts a face to your business. It helps your key message break through the chatter and resonate with your audience. It also doesn’t have to be complicated. If you already have a crisis communications plan, just incorporate video into every stage of your strategy: Plan, Monitor, Act, Debrief.
The most important part of planning your video strategy for crisis communications is to first think of primary challenges that companies face:
- Service disruptions
- Customer service issues
- Personnel changes
- Product issues
- Legal challenges
- Code of conduct breaches
Along with a documented action plan for each type of crisis, you’ll first need to identify the best spokespeople for each type of situation. With written statements, spokespeople are usually selected based on their title, but for video, delivery is more important. Sometimes the most logical roles in your organization won’t include the most effective communicators.
For example, during the Cloudflare service outage that affected millions of websites, network leads were the ones who became the face of the communications with the public as they explained what happened and how they were resolving it. In everyday language, they explained the issue and made the company’s next steps transparent.
Second, training spokespeople is paramount. When leaders speak on camera, they should deliver the script in an empathetic and genuine way that is reflected both in tone and body language. A camera-ready leader can make all the difference.
Finally, make sure your videos will reach the right audiences and not the wrong ones. Once you’ve mapped out your distribution strategy, select a streaming platform that can deliver to the proper channels reliably and securely. Especially when communicating internally, you don’t want confidential messages leaking to the public. Platforms like Brightcove offer a suite of security features including DRM (Digital Rights Management), allowing you to easily encrypt and secure your content.
Monitoring can make or break a crisis because it helps you understand how to adapt your plan.
In 2019, a browser issue caused Avid’s client systems to crash, halting production on Hollywood movies and popular TV series. After monitoring coverage from journalists while the internal team investigated the cause of the crash, Avid created a video strategy featuring their CEO and CRO.
Journalists had mistakenly framed the story around Avid, rather than the browser that had actually caused the crash. By monitoring the crisis and producing easy-to-share video content, Avid was able to pivot its plan from damage control to education.
A video strategy must be nimble to navigate the turbulent tides of crisis comms. Especially as the story breaks, responding live can give you the first word and mitigate challenges to your narrative. But don’t limit yourself to livestreaming on social media. Go with a streaming platform that can publish livestreams on all of your digital properties and reach your audience wherever they are.
In 1993, after 50+ reports of dangerous materials in Diet Pepsi cans, Pepsi launched an education campaign. Rather than simply release a statement about their manufacturing process, Pepsi produced four different videos with actual footage of their safety procedures in action.
When you’re ready to act on your crisis communications plan, the video strategy can be so much more than your CEO reading your press release. Taking your audience behind-the-scenes not only builds customer trust, it taps into video’s real power of showing, not telling. Furthermore, it reinforces your employer brand to your workforce, inspiring company pride and employee retention.
Highly produced, multi-camera videos won’t be possible or even appropriate for every crisis. But anything related to your products or services is an opportunity to show your brand promises and commitments in action. In an era when scandals have become a spectator sport on social media, evidence of action has never been more valuable.
Thankfully, measuring the success of your video’s delivery has also never been easier. In the ’90s, brands were still relying on ad impressions to measure campaign success. Today, we can target specific audiences on specific channels and make sure “video views” really mean the video was viewed—all the way through.
Reaching lots of distinct audiences can be tricky, especially during a crisis when you need to track how well each one engages with your video content. Publishing from a centralized solution is key to proper tracking; however, you’ll need to make sure the platform you use can publish everywhere you need it to. For example, Brightcove has over 100 integrations including popular CMSs, MAPs, and it publishes directly to several of the top social networks.
Debriefing after the crisis is over doesn’t just mean writing a post-mortem. Incorporating video into a crisis communications plan is a commitment to rebuilding confidence.
Take a company like JetBlue, which suffered a public crisis when 1,000+ flights had to be canceled during a snowstorm. In this case, CEO David Neeleman wrote a public letter of apology and introduced a customer’s bill of rights that included compensation for all affected passengers, again restating the details on YouTube as well as talk shows.
In JetBlue’s case, video helped reinforce the company’s plan to its customers by reengaging audiences and rebuilding the brand. A robust video strategy can take this a step further, especially if multiple aspects of the brand’s reputation were damaged.
For example, some business steps may be necessary to resolving the crisis, but they won’t resonate with the public or customers. Producing different videos during the crisis that address the different steps can provide invaluable data. By measuring each video’s performance and engagement, you can build brand campaigns based on consumer sentiment.
A centralized streaming platform can do more than help you reach internal and external audiences with the key messages they need. It can provide you with the data you need to rebuild confidence in your brand.
Lights, Crisis, Action
In an age of constant video streaming and social content, written statements have a hard time going viral—or even getting read. Press releases can’t travel in the same way as multimedia. Context gets lost as word spreads. As a more accessible format, video content should be an integral part of your crisis communications that can become a source of truth during a time of crisis.
Video gives you the chance to connect with consumers on a personal level at a time when authentic communication is just as critical as responsiveness. No amount of careful wording can compete with a video where a company leader acknowledges and offers solutions to the issue.
By incorporating video into your crisis communications strategy, you can connect better with consumers and employees alike and come out stronger than ever.