As a rule, community professionals work to minimize their engagement in a community, preferring to focus on orchestrating and designing the environment, so others engage. In a crisis, however, stepping in and providing a steady, moderating voice is required as anxiety takes hold. Crisis engagement guidelines can help.
Community professionals tend to use what I call the Language of Engagement – a style of communication that is designed to give space and encouragement to others. In a crisis, they balance that with clearly and declaratively communicating official decisions and verified information.
Community professionals have a few goals in a crisis:
- Alleviate anxiety by helping people connect with each other and create a shared understanding and perspective of the crisis.
- Be present and over-communicate even when there is no new information.
- Ensure that information is neither minimized or overblown.
- Connect people to verified information and official channels – and reinforce their validity while moderating out false information.
- Encourage the community to collaboratively address the crisis and develop the capacity to reinforce official responders.
Here are our general crisis engagement guidelines, although each organization will also have its own based on the market in which they operate.
As a community professional, your job is primarily to support people and ease anxiety. The best antidote is bringing people together and focusing them on meaningful action.
What other guidelines would you add?