I recently came across a story on Crisis Communications in which the author depicted some of the basics of good “Crisis Communications” as “clichés”, yet with no further recommendation as to what to do instead.
We’ve recently seen to what it can lead when a company does not swiftly express regrets for an unfortunate event. The fact that it took United two full days before doing so after a paying passenger had been forcefully dragged off one of their flights in the full view of the pubic world-wide, exacerbated the crisis.
Expressing regrets and apologising, even before you have the full facts, does not imply that you are guilty. It just shows you are assuming responsibility and will take the appropriate actions when, where and if needed. You are taking care. Expressing regrets shows you are not just a distant organisation, but that you are able to sympathise and express human feelings, like when comforting a friend.
In the same way, it is important for a company to be open and provide as much information as possible. There are some areas which are the exclusive responsibility of the investigation authority such as the “causes” of an accident and the progress of the investigation. But there are so many other areas in which to communicate to the families, all stakeholders and to the public at large, who are all so hungry for information.
To summarise, there are no clichés which should be challenged. There are just good practices which have proven their worth and effectiveness over the years and decades. They just need to continue being practised when the case strikes.