By Rex Hammock, CEO

I’ve spent the past 40 years learning things I didn’t realize I was learning.

Such lessons tend to be the big thing and important later, and they often occur at times of crisis or challenge.

I’ve learned—without realizing it at the time—that being in the middle of such an event can teach me far more than webinars or conferences.

In addition to doing all I can to help our staff stay focused on our clients’ needs during times like these, I try to recall anything that we may have learned in previous challenges when communications, internal and external, played an important part in how we moved through such challenges.

Here are six lessons I’ve learned in previous crises that may have helped me later on.

(I would also like for you to send me your lessons from previous unprecedented communications challenges that you’ve lived through and the lessons they taught you.)

  1. Help your clients constantly. Now is not the time to stand back if you can help solve obvious needs. During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hammock adopted a publishing company that was underwater—literally. Their content skills and our operations skills turned a potential nightmare into lifetime friendships.
  2. Stay calm with your emotions, but intense in your execution. (It will later be called leadership.)
  3. Provide answers, even if it means you are choosing among answers that no one has faced before.
  4. At some point during a crisis, you will look back and realize why you should have listened to some obvious communications advice that you decided to ignore. Forgive yourself.
  5. As I’ve written before, at times like these, remember to fall in love with your clients’ challenges, as it’s not a time to fall in love with your solutions.
  6. You will survive and grow. As a communicator, you will learn things that will make you an expert in many, many ways you would have never dreamed you would.

Image: Getty Images

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