Why you should talk to your employees first in a crisis

To use a musical analogy, ‘Show the band your music before raising the curtain.’

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Put yourself in this scenario: One of your top clients, with your advice, seems to have avoided a potentially negative media response to a workplace injury. The non-fatal accident at a large manufacturing plant is getting more attention than expected, but you were prepared and had thought of presumably everything.

You briefed a company spokeswoman and armed her with strong talking points. Reporters were responded to swiftly and honestly. Initial online reports were fair and balanced.

Yet the moment you felt you were in the clear, the crisis began.

One of the factory’s workers tweeted a photo of the worksite along with a sentence complaining about management’s uncompassionate response (the factory reopened in an hour) and mentioned another recent accident (which never occurred). A few reporters saw the tweet and started reaching out to more employees. One reporter, after verifying that the employee worked there, but without talking to him, quoted the tweet on his 6 p.m. broadcast. A single tweet from someone on your own team changed the narrative.

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