Douse the Fire

Businessmen hold signs with the word SOS on the background of a sinking bank. Financial crisis and business bankruptcy. Vector illustration

The fall of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and the unsteadiness in the banking industry has created a palpable danger to the world’s economy. A major component of the painful and potentially unnecessary damage is a failure of communication.

We called upon Eden Gillott of Gillott Communications for her insights: “As a Crisis PR specialist who regularly advises clients on sensitive situations, I would've recommended that SVB take the following steps:

SVB's crisis communications strategy needed to anticipate the potential ripple effect this could have on its stakeholders and build its communications plan around it.

SVB needed to take proactive control of its communication and be transparent from the outset. The optics of announcing they were raising money, while at the same time essentially saying that everything was fine triggered people’s memories of Lehman Brothers.

SVB should have clearly explained the reasons behind their move to sell-off financial instruments and the potential impact on their financial position.

SVB needed to use all communications channels available to it. They should have leveraged social media and other channels to communicate directly with their clients and investors and keep them updated throughout the crisis. They needed to take responsibility and be transparent about what happened and what they were doing to fix it.

SVB's ordeal underscores the importance of clear, timely, and transparent communication during crises. This makes the difference between a swift recovery and lasting negative impacts. Even better, it can stop a crisis before it starts.”

We agree with Eden, who douses many fires before they destroy businesses. Over the years, we’ve advocated that in times of stress, it is incumbent for clients to get there first to control the narrative. Your story must be well-considered, strategic, and delivered with absolute certainty. Never obfuscate or use worn-out phrases like “business as usual.” Own your missteps and outline precisely what you are doing to correct the problem.

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