Crisis Communications

A national professional association came to B2 in 2014 with a major problem. After one of its leaders was removed from her volunteer position due to an ethics violation, she convinced a number of other volunteers to resign from her local chapter.

And it looked like things might soon get worse, as the small group started working to launch an entirely new competing organization.

The organization’s leadership thought they were taking the high road by not discussing the situation with the members. But in reality, their lack of communication was allowing misinformation to spread and it put their organization in jeopardy.

Once B2 was retained, we quickly learned all we could about the situation in a few short days – talking with the executive director and board members, and reading a year’s worth of emails. After creating key messages and a Q&A document, B2 coached the organization’s staff, board members, and volunteer leaders on how to directly respond to questions about the situation without libeling anyone or using emotion.

B2 then drafted letters and emails for the organization to send to members and other chapter leaders, messages for posting online and on social media, and guidance for volunteers taking phone calls about the situation.

After two months of communications and proactive outreach to members, the situation was diffused. Other members did not migrate to the newly created organization, and the former volunteer stopped sending letters to the board and to members.

In our crisis communications work, we encourage our clients to be open and straightforward in talking about a situation. In this case, taking a direct approach in the communication to members made all the difference – tied to a solid strategy and consistent messaging.