Crisis can expose defects. When a storm breaks out, it can turn up all sorts of things that until then had been out sight. When crisis hits, the communications department usually will have its hands full. Though this may not seem the time to worry about image defects, a crisis is actually as good a moment as any to take care of them. After all, if the world is watching you, at least it will tend to listen more closely to what you have to say. In a crisis, the communications department needs to keep an eye on the way it would want the public to see the company. Was it being successful lately? Was it successful merely in terms of sales and profits? Where was it creating value for the community? And what are its prospects for the years ahead? Is it possible the crisis actually resulted from the company going through a change, and a change that might make it more beneficial for society?
This is the strategic perspective in a company’s communications and it is especially important in a crisis because it can serve to prove that sooner or later, things are bound to improve for the company, because what it is seeking is long-term success. This is saying that the company will not cut corners in the short term. However, in the short term, the company may need to make painful adjustments. But the public will be understanding and be so all the more the better the company explains the long-term perspective of a plant closure, a partial sell-off or the retreat from a certain market.
The public often knows very little about a company’s values. If that is so, are there third parties that can attest to the company’s excellence? Has the company won awards, say, for safe operation of facilities? Of course, this is not something you would want to turn into a press release, at least not in times of crisis, but it does make a good talking point when speaking to journalists, and it may even change their minds.