Three crisis communications lessons from Sandy

Following are summaries of three articles I published about leadership achievements, and missteps, during Hurricane Sandy. Each article address a different aspect of crisis communications, including: internal communications, public relations, and customer communications.

Prioritizing employee concerns

A crisis does not affect everyone equally, and when businesses reopened after the storm, many employees were still coping with stressful situations. This article, published in Simply Communicate, highlights the unique challenges employers faced as they coped with supply chain disruptions, technology breakdowns, and distressed employees.


Internal communicators and business leaders are well-schooled in crisis communications, knowing all too well that a crisis is a turning point and a time of tremendous change in an organization. Strong leadership brings people together, fosters a sense of unity, and sets a course for growth when the crisis is over.

Read the full article: Communicating Trust: Lessons from Hurricane Sandy

Connecting with the public

This article, published with the International Association of Business Communicators, highlights several of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s communication and leadership decisions to protect New York City. While many people are aware of his stumbles regarding the city’s annual marathon, those mistakes should not overshadow the extraordinary planning and coordination efforts that kept millions of people safe. As Mayor Bloomberg learned, managing a crisis can seem relatively easy compared with the challenges of a recovery effort.


An important, and under-analyzed, aspect of crisis communication planning is the approach to Day 2 scenarios and corresponding communications. When the crisis subsides, people want very different things from their leaders to guide them through additional anxiety, frustration, and fatigue

Read the full article: Communicating during a storm: Lessons from Mayor Bloomberg

Reducing customer anxiety

Restoring trust is an imperative in the banking sector. A wave of scandals over the past year only intensified Americans’ disdain for the industry and their resentment over the lack of indictments from the financial crisis.

This time, however, the bankers did something right. When Hurricane Sandy struck the east coast, banks almost uniformly offered to help their customers. Most waived fees for late payments, some offered emergency services, and the vast majority donated to relief efforts. Perhaps their fear of the CFPB triggered their actions, or maybe the banks have tired of negative headlines. Regardless, in this crisis, banks successfully demonstrated trustworthiness through action.


Few people, even in business, truly understand the types of decisions and actions that create trust. Importantly, trust is established almost entirely through non-verbal communication. This presents a challenge for many leaders who think about communications from the standpoint of a messaging strategy. Trust isn’t a message; it’s a series of actions that demonstrate character.

Read the full article: Sandy Response Shows How Banks Can Regain Public Trust



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