HR Comms 101: Crisis Edition!

Tim Sackett Communication, Employee Communications, Leadership

Organizations have had some big, historic crisis to deal with lately. During the pandemic and the current Black Lives Matter movement, organizations have been quick to react with communications out to employees, customers/clients, and various stakeholders.

While some of these communications have been great, the vast majority are just copycats of regurgitated corporate-speak where we have mastered the art form of saying something without really saying anything at all. Most of these communications are so vanilla, they’ve become water flavored!

I through out a Tweet making fun of the language we use in these communications and the community came back to me with their favorites which include:

  • “Now, more than ever…”
  • “In these unprecedented times…”
  • “As we move forward…”
  • “…we will need to adjust and recalibrate…”
  • “…coaching/mentoring and empathy is what is needed right now…”
  • “…we need to align in everything we do…”
  • “…as we work towards a new normal…”
  • “…as we navigate this uncertainty…”
  • “Now is the time we need to be even more communicative…”
  • “We are all in this together…”

Cue High School Musical Soundtrack…

So, what would the “perfect” organizational communication look like during a crisis? Probably something like this:

Dear Stakeholders,

In these unprecedented times, as we move forward, we will need to adjust and recalibrate as we work towards a new normal. We will lead with coaching, mentoring, and empathy as we navigate this uncertainty. Now is the time for action and for us to all be more communicative.

You are not alone. We are here with you. Though you may be far away, we are here to stay and see you through this turbulent time until the end. (did you pick up the Michael Jackson lyric? Pro tip: throwing in popular song lyrics into crisis comms is a great game to play)

In the end, we are all in this together as one race, the human race. We are gathered, organizationally, today to get through this thing called life, and we will persevere for the good of all those who rely on us.

Stay the course, a thousand points of light, stay the course.

We listen. We care. We serve.


Of course, I’m making fun of these communications, but I also know how serious organizations are going over these comms during this time. In a cancel culture, one wrong word can cost you your job, or your organization its entire brand.

Now, more than ever, be careful and stay golden out there HR Pros!