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    The Dangers of Sending Contradictory Messages in a Crisis; Choosing Between Principles and Protests

    The following appears as a commentary by Edward Segal in his weekly “Crisis Ahead” podcast.
    Watch previous episodes and subscribe to his podcast at this link:

    An important aspect of crisis communications is to have a strong and consistent message about your disaster, scandal, or other emergency.

    Do not allow the people who represent your company in a crisis say different things to different audiences at different times for different reasons.

    Unless everyone is on the same page, you run the risk of confusing people and worsening the crisis.

    The consequences of having contradictory messages has been on full display, thanks to the mixed messages about the pandemic sent by the Trump Administration.

    Some White House officials refused to wear masks while others recommended that the masks be worn.

    While a few government representatives warned of the dangers of failing to social distance, others encouraged people to attend public events where social distancing would be impossible.

    The results of these mixed messages are unfortunate, but not surprising.Daily coronavirus infections broke new records.Hospitals were close to reaching full capacities — again.

    The average age of new coronavirus patients dropped by about 15 years compared with only a few months ago.

    When you have to deal with a crisis, what kind of message will you send about it?

    Will your message be consistent, clear, and help put the crisis behind you?

    Or will what you say, how you say it, and when you say it make matters worse?


    Boycotts and other forms of protest can trigger a crisis for any company.

    Most boycotts involve consumers or members of the public who express their anger or displeasure with an organization’s actions or policies.

    That’s why it was unusual when several companies including Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and Ben & Jerry’s recently announced an advertising boycott against another company — Facebook. — Why? Because of Facebook’s failure to remove hate speech form their pages.

    Are you thinking of saying or anything that could upset or anger anyone? Why would they be upset? Do you have to choose between making money — or taking a stand on an important issue?

    If they are equally important, how are you going to do both at the same time and avoid creating a crisis for your organization?

    Learn more about Edward Segal and “Crisis Ahead”, his new book on crisis management, at