By Emily McDermott

A top financial institution experiences a multi-day data center outage that denies its clients access to their money via online banking or other channels.

It’s time to put their crisis communications plan to go into action.  The fundamentals of crisis communication plans stand the test of time, but the delivery and execution of some components have adapted to today’s technology and 24/7 communications world.  In today’s fast-paced world, video communication stands out for its ability to provide the value, relevance, and flexibility people need, while also providing the on-the-go method they want.

And that’s just what BB&T used to share “A Statement from BB&T Chairman and CEO Kelly King” during the bank’s recent outage.

Kelly King’s video message is just over 90 seconds and includes the most pertinent information conveyed in an empathetic and caring tone, delivered with clear competence and expertise.  King shows deep commitment and dedication to the financial institution’s clients and the public.  These emotions were conveyed through King’s tone and mannerism during the video.  The message was extremely well-delivered and would have read nicely if sent in a written format, but by using video, BB&T created content that is personal and has a real impact on its audience.  After all, viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text. (It also doesn’t hurt that adding video to your landing pages, website, and content offers, improves your company’s SEO value and your click-through rates across the board.)

In the brief video, King acknowledged what happened, sincerely apologized and reassured he and BB&T are working to solve the problem. He gave an overview of what happened and explained efforts to resolve it. King reinforced commitment to clients (by waiving or reimbursing any banking fees directly related to the outage), and encouraged clients to reach out.  He then apologized again, shared BB&T’s future steps to prevent an outage, and expressed thankfulness for clients’ business and support.

Video enhances your brand and your brand’s message via a real human voice.  While trained spokespeople work for some crises, for a highly sensitive one (like in this case) the chief executive should be the lead spokesperson (unless there’s a very strong cause for the contrary).

When would a video by the chief executive NOT be the best deliverable?  Not all senior-level executives are made equal.  Some can stand in front of a 1,000-person conference audience without pause but freeze when a camera is pointed their way for an interview.  Some have exceptional writing communication skills but don’t do well in a verbal format.  King’s tone and nonverbal communication in the video statement show his leadership and express his sentiment extremely well.  King sounds like he cares, he’s doing something, he’s working to prevent a recurrence, he’s accountable and responsible, and will be part of the solution.

I have a feeling BB&T and King’s statement will be seen and referenced in crisis communication trainings for years to come (and for the right reasons).

Based in Van Eperen‘s Baltimore office with more than a decade of experience, Emily McDermott, Account Supervisor/Project Manager, guides client strategy, oversees teams, and contributes to Van Eperen’s marketing and business development. Van Eperen is a Capitol Communicator sponsor.

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