It is with sadness that the nation received the news that Her Majesty the Queen died on Thursday night. A provider of much support and encouragement to numerous charities over her lifetime her contribution to the charity sector and civil society will not be forgotten.
In times like these charity communicators will find themselves on the forefront of their charity’s responses to the news and it can feel like a lot. The government plan for what happens in the days after the Queen’s death, kicks into action we know there will be increased pressure on anyone working in comms to get things right. Here is some advice from our network on how to handle major news and crisis comms planning that may help inform your approach in the days ahead:
Prioritise what you and your team need to do
When major news events like a Royal death happen, it can feel overwhelming for comms teams. As freelancer Helen Deakin shared in her blog around dealing with news that shakes the world, prioritising your activities can help. Talking about prioritising five main things that will help comms professionals deal with big news events perhaps the most important for us all in the charity sector right now are deciding what this news means to our organisations, thinking what our audiences need and taking time on our messaging.
Think about messaging
At times of national importance such as this keeping focused and ensuring your messaging is right is vital. Much like when a crisis happens the way you communicate with all those around you can make all the difference. You might find it useful to apply some of the golden rules of messaging that Forster Communications shared with us in their crisis comms blog. This includes communicating with care, concern and empathy with those affected, demonstrating calm leadership and action, being actively responsive, and only communicating what is known not conjecturing.
A step-by-step approach can give focus
Working through any existing comms response plans you have in place for either major events or a crisis can be a good way to keep on top of things. And a useful piece of advice that can be drawn from Rough House Media’s essential tips for writing a crisis plan is around ensuring you make internal comms a part of your step-by-step comms plan. This includes making sure to brief key staff and organise your comms team to ensure that you are all on the same page as you plan or refresh, and roll out, your response to the news. Think about ensuring all messaging is clear, organised and everyone knows where to find it, to help keep your messaging aligned across all your channels for example.
Above all though remember we are all human and fast-moving news of cultural significance like this can put increased pressure on teams. There may be an emotional and professional impact on yourself and your teams so do head on over to our Wellbeing Guide should you need more advice on how to support yourself and others.
Other useful resources
If you are a member of the charity communicator community do check out some of the useful threads on the Third Sector PR & Comms Network Facebook page.
NCVO have produced a useful ‘What charities need to know during this period of mourning’ piece, as have the Directory of Social Change who have created ‘Considerations for the coming days‘ guidance.
Further information about what happens now from the Association of Event Organisers.
Official government national mourning guidance.
Civil Society have signposted advice during this period of national mourning.
Fundraising Regulator and Chartered Institute of Fundraising have compiled a quick guide of considerations around fundraising activity.
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