Internal PR: Why Your Team Matters as Much as Your Customers—and How to Communicate to Them in a Crisis

internal pr

Internal PR isn’t just about sharing information—it’s about fostering a culture of trust and transparency within your team. When a crisis hits, this internal bond becomes your organization’s lifeline, ensuring everyone is on the same page and ready to face challenges head-on.

Think of it as the glue that keeps your team united, empowering them to navigate crises with confidence and resilience. From frontline staff to top brass, effective internal communication builds solidarity and empowers individuals to act decisively when it matters most.

Internal PR acts as a shield, guarding your organization against the fallout of miscommunication. Keeping stakeholders informed and engaged prevents both internal discord and external backlash, allowing your organization to maintain control of the narrative even in turbulent times.

Crafting Messages for Internal Audiences

Effective communication isn’t just about broadcasting updates—it’s about crafting tailored messages that resonate through every corner of your organization. From the frontlines to the boardroom, each internal audience brings its own set of concerns and priorities to the table, demanding a nuanced approach to communication.


During times of crisis, employees crave clarity and transparency. Communicate how the crisis directly impacts their roles, job security, and workplace safety. Provide clear instructions on any changes to their tasks or work environment, emphasizing their well-being and the organization’s commitment to their safety. Prioritize information regarding any support systems in place, such as employee assistance programs or remote work arrangements, to alleviate concerns and maintain productivity.

Managers and Team Leaders

Empower managers and team leaders with timely updates and decision-making authority to effectively lead their teams through the crisis. Equip them with resources to address employee concerns, maintain healthy morale, and foster open communication within their teams. Prioritize sharing strategic insights and crisis management protocols to guide their decision-making process and ensure alignment with organizational goals and values.

Partners and Suppliers

Keep open lines of communication with partners and suppliers to address any concerns and maintain trust in the business relationship. Provide regular updates on how the crisis affects collaboration, delivery schedules, and contractual obligations. Prioritize transparency in outlining contingency plans and proactive steps taken to ensure business continuity, reassuring partners and suppliers of the organization’s commitment to maintaining the relationship despite challenges.

Related Reading: Corporate Communications vs. PR vs. Marketing

Stakeholders and Investors

For stakeholders and investors, transparency is paramount. Provide a clear and honest assessment of the financial impact of the crisis on the organization, including revenue projections, cost-saving measures, and potential risks. Prioritize sharing a well-defined roadmap for recovery, outlining strategic initiatives and milestones to restore confidence and protect investments. Address any questions or concerns promptly, demonstrating accountability and commitment to long-term sustainability.

Board Members and Executives

Engage board members and executives with strategic insights and actionable plans to navigate the crisis effectively. Prioritize sharing comprehensive updates on decision-making processes, risk assessments, and governance measures to ensure alignment with organizational objectives. Provide opportunities for input and collaboration to leverage their expertise and leadership in guiding the organization through turbulent times.

Frontline Customer-Facing Staff

Empower frontline customer-facing staff with clear guidance on how to address customer inquiries and concerns during the crisis. Prioritize providing training and resources to handle difficult situations with empathy and professionalism. Ensure consistent messaging across all customer touchpoints to uphold the organization’s brand reputation and commitment to customer satisfaction, fostering trust and loyalty even in challenging circumstances.

Internal Crisis Response Teams

Keep internal crisis response teams well-informed and equipped to manage the situation effectively. Provide detailed, up-to-the-minute updates on the evolving crisis, including relevant data, insights, and action plans. Prioritize clear communication channels and streamlined decision-making processes to facilitate coordination and collaboration among team members. Empower crisis response teams with the authority and resources needed to address emergent issues and make informed decisions in real-time.

Support Functions (HR, IT, Legal, etc.)

Support functions play a crucial role in maintaining organizational resilience during a crisis. Prioritize providing clear guidance on how each support function contributes to the overall crisis response effort and how they can assist other departments. Address any concerns or challenges specific to each support function promptly, ensuring continuity of essential services and operations. Keep support teams updated on relevant policies, procedures, and resources to enable them to fulfill their roles effectively and efficiently.

Remote and Distributed Teams

For remote and distributed teams, communication is key to maintaining productivity and morale amidst crisis-induced disruption. Prioritize providing remote communication tools and platforms to facilitate collaboration and engagement. Offer guidance on best practices for remote work, including time management, communication etiquette, and maintaining work-life balance. Ensure remote teams feel supported and connected through regular check-ins, virtual meetings, and opportunities for social interaction.

Unionized Employees

Communicate with unionized employees in accordance with collective bargaining agreements and labor laws. Prioritize addressing labor-related concerns and ensuring compliance with contractual obligations, emphasizing collaboration and cooperation with union representatives. Provide regular updates on how the crisis impacts unionized employees, including any changes to working conditions, schedules, or benefits. Maintain open lines of communication to address any grievances or issues promptly and transparently, fostering trust and mutual understanding.

Related Reading:7 Ways Corporate Communicators Can Learn from the Presidential Election Season Communications Blitz

7 Practical Tips and Best Practices for Your Internal PR Framework

Navigating the complexities of internal PR during a crisis requires more than just good intentions—it demands a solid framework supported by actionable strategies. Here are some practical tips and best practices to fortify your organization’s internal PR and steer through turbulent times with confidence:

  1. Establish clear communication channels and protocols. 

Establishing clear communication channels and protocols is essential for navigating crises effectively. By defining streamlined channels for communication, such as email, internal messaging platforms, or regular meetings, information can flow swiftly and efficiently throughout the organization. Additionally, establishing protocols for disseminating updates ensures that everyone receives timely and accurate information, while clarifying roles and responsibilities helps to maintain accountability and cohesion. 

  1. Provide regular updates and transparency. 

This means keeping employees informed with timely updates on the crisis situation, organizational responses, and any significant developments that may arise. By fostering transparency, you create an environment where information flows freely, rumors are addressed promptly, and uncertainties are acknowledged with honesty and clarity.

  1. Empower managers and leaders with the necessary information and tools to lead their teams. 

Empowering managers and team leaders is key to maintaining stability and morale within the workforce. Equip them with the necessary information, resources, and training to effectively communicate with their teams and navigate challenges with confidence. Additionally, provide tools and platforms that enable leaders to engage with employees, gather feedback, and address concerns in real-time, fostering a culture of open communication and support.

  1. Address concerns and provide reassurance to employees. 

During times of uncertainty, it’s essential to address employees’ concerns and provide reassurance wherever possible. Acknowledge their worries with empathy and offer clarity on how the crisis may impact job security, workplace safety, and daily routines. Outline the steps being taken to mitigate risks and ensure their well-being, helping to alleviate anxieties amidst uncertainty.

  1. Coordinate efforts across departments and teams. 

Foster collaboration and alignment by encouraging cross-functional cooperation and communication. Establishing cross-functional crisis response teams can facilitate coordination, decision-making, and resource allocation, ensuring that everyone is working towards a common goal and responding to challenges in a unified manner.

  1. Consider cultural and language diversity in communication. 

Recognize and respect the cultural diversity within the organization, tailoring communication to accommodate different languages, cultural norms, and preferences. Prioritize providing information in multiple languages and formats to ensure inclusivity and accessibility for all employees. Consider cultural nuances and sensitivities when crafting messages to ensure they resonate with diverse cultural and language groups. Foster an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and heard, promoting unity and cohesion across the organization.

  1. Leverage technology for collaboration. 

Implementing video conferencing, instant messaging, and project management tools can bridge geographical barriers and maintain productivity in remote work environments, ensuring that teams remain connected and effective regardless of their physical location.

In the end, effective internal PR isn’t just a strategy—it’s a mindset that puts your team at the center of your organization’s success. So, as you chart your course through the challenges ahead, remember that your team matters just as much as your customers, and how you communicate with them in a crisis can make all the difference.


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