A Communicator’s Guide To Surviving A Crisis

Posted by SheaDavis on August 29, 2013

As anyone familiar with crisis communications knows, you are “on” 24/7 until the situation is resolved. It’s hard enough managing communications once a crisis hits but even harder ensuring that you are physically and mentally up to the task. There doesn’t seem to be enough time to rest, or eat, or leave the office. You are so busy taking care of everyone else you frequently forget to take care of yourself.

I’ve been involved in many crises during my career – from intense 24-hour issues to ones that lasted for years. You run on adrenalin at the outset. Taking a nap is the last thing on your mind when you have the media, co-workers or possibly the government tracking you down. But the human body – and especially the mind – can only take so much before starting to shut down. You hit a wall, and how hard you hit is completely dependent on how well you’ve managed your needs along with those of everyone else.

Here are a few simple tips that can help you keep your sanity and stay at the top of your game during a crisis:

  • Get some rest. Of course you knew I would recommend that. Even a 30-minute power nap will reap great benefits. A full eight hours of sleep (away from your office) will seem like a miracle.
  • Divide and conquer. You can’t keep going 24/7 for an extended period of time and maintain your edge. Having one or two designated people ready to assist you in times of crisis makes all the difference.
  • Ask for outside help. Use your network of friends and colleagues to get advice and bounce ideas off of them. Maybe one of them has lived to tell the tale about a similar situation and can provide helpful suggestions. At the least, they can offer words of encouragement when you are being bombarded by negative comments internally and externally.
  • Have trusted partners. Crisis communications specialists bring expertise to oversee assignments you may not even know you had.
  • Eat, and eat well. Sure the vending machines may seem like the perfect way to get sustenance between meetings, news briefings and other obligations. However, not all food is created equal. Fruits, vegetables and protein will provide you with actual nutrition to fuel your body and mind and keep you sharp.
  • Hydrate. Guzzling black coffee, caffeinated energy drinks or even something stronger sure sounds appealing in the midst of a crisis, but they aren’t the answer in the long run. Think again about getting the most nutritional bang for your intake buck. Water or an occasional fruit juice will keep you going stronger, longer.
  • Keep it simple. Look at your calendar to see if there are routine or non-imperative meetings that you can miss or send someone else. You need to keep your focus and energy on the crisis.
  • Baby yourself. If you can take 15 minutes to take a walk or just look out the window, do it. You will be amazed at how refreshed you will feel.

What tips have you found that worked for you during a crisis? Tell us in the comments below or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog.