Worldwide crisis messaging guardrails





These are not so much my ideas as they are ideas I’ve co-opted from the internets. I’ve organized them here for reference because they seemed so universal once I put them in one place.


It stands to reason: What works best during a crisis could very well work in non-crisis. Either way, I wanted to make a comprehensive list. Maybe someday I’ll write a book, one that I will actually publish. 


Got one I’ve missed? Message me and tell me about it. If it’s good, I’ll add it and give you credit.


Don’t Lie



During a crisis, lying seems to land so much harder than when there’s nothing to worry about. To not lie during a crisis, one must practice transparency during the non-crisis times.


That’s the hard part. Nobody believes themself to be dishonest. Figuring out this riddle is above my pay grade so I’ll stick to my lane.


This much is true: Tough facts delivered with sensitivity to the recipient’s emotions will only teach others that they can rely on you for the straight dope, even when it’s inconvenient.


Beware of virtue signaling



Your members and team members are not dense. If you are going speak to a worldwide crisis, make sure you absolutely need to send the message.


The big complaint from consumers during the COVID-19 crisis has been that they didn’t need to hear from every brand they ever purchased on their COVID-19 policy.


Gyms, however, really needed to speak up in this case.



Declare nothing you might regret later



So many fitness leaders in the immediate unfolding of the COVID-19 crisis advertized their own and humanity’s collective ignorance.


Use this lens: What will this statement look like when the smoke clears if it turns out I’m wrong?


Especially if your declaration adds nothing to the experience of your members or team members, is it necessary?


Make it about them, not you



This is pretty straight-forward.

  1. Read: (and re-read) any message before you send it.
  2. Ask: Is this about serving my members’ needs or about serving my gym? 


Put the members first, and they will take care of the other. 


Look at me and how awesome I am messaging, images and stories, only serve you.


Own Your Mistakes Publically



File this next to being transparent.


You can speak to your own process of managing through a difficult decision, especially if you missed the mark in some way.


As long as your mistakes are not grave — like decided to take your rifle to the roof and start shooting —  owning them makes you more human.


You’re going to have point out where you went wrong, and what you did or will do to improve your process. It will have to be genuine, and it should inform me (as your audience) that I’m not a total loser for making similar mistakes.



Don’t sell standards for brownie points



It’s great that you are cleaning your gym and equipment, but selling this to your members as if you deserve bonus points for it insults their intelligence.


That’s like bragging to your spouse that you didn’t fool around with someone else this week.


Right platform



Really think through the message you are sending and consider if you’re using the ideal platform.


If you know where your members want to reach them on critical messages, SMS, email or social media, then where do you send the non-important messages?


The best way to know is to ask and then test the results, but generally speaking…

  • Social media is ideal for general announcements, but not details.
  • SMS is ideal when the message is urgent.
  • Email is ideal for more detailed or procedural information when delivery matters.
  • Phone? If it’s a matter of life or death, a good old fashioned call is in order.

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Mark