“Losing your head in a crisis is a good way to become the crisis.”
― C.J. Redwine, Defiance
What’s a CM’s responsibility in times of crisis? If you are up on your current events, you know that there was a riot at the US Capitol building last week, and so far, five people have died. The facts of which are not in dispute.
If I learned anything in 2020, tone and timing are crucial in a CM’s work. Anytime you run an event, compose an email or newsletter, or post on a forum, you need to consider a ton of variables to make the most impact with your community.
The ups and downs of the pandemic have been tricky within our international community. Our community members have different experiences state by state and country by country in the best of times but adding COVID-19 to the mix adds complexity. One day our team in France may be going through another lockdown while our team in Portland, OR, deals with forest fires, displacement, and political upheaval. Navigating all of that while producing content for the community can be tricky, and we are generally mindful of our audience’s local experiences.
Now, back to the Capital riot. My team was running a larger event on Thursday, and I had a moment where I had to ask, is the tone of this event appropriate? Do we need to call attention to the riot, have a work-appropriate stance, or even cancel the event? The ultimate answer was not to cancel the event, not make an official statement (our company had done so), and the event benefited from a great turnout.
The discussion I had with myself about the event left me thinking that I don’t have a playbook to help guide content decisions around crisis times. Every time something comes up, I deal with it ad hoc. The ad hoc nature of these exercises isn’t problematic in “normal times.” However, after months of pandemic and political unrest around the world, maybe it’s time to define a CM’s position in these matters.
What is our responsibility as CM’s in times of crisis or upheaval? Do you have a playbook? Does your company have one?
I am sure it’s different from community to community. However, I plan to do some more thinking on this to take the guesswork out of it. I hope that we don’t have another year like 2020, but it never hurts to be prepared.
Do you have any best practices around crisis and the CM? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!