One of the movies receiving accolades, if not awards, at the Oscars on Sunday is “The King’s Speech.” No spoiler alert is needed to tell you that the movie is about how King George VI, who stammers, prepares for a pivotal speech. The king can’t just bow out of this challenging speech because his nation, on the brink of war, needs to hear from its leader. This is crisis communication at its highest level.
Whatever the reason a leader might want to shirk difficult outreach, the right-on lesson from this movie for communicators is twofold: first, there is no substitute for hearing from the person at the top when a crisis looms; and second, there is no substitute for careful preparation and a well-considered message before communicating.
And one final lesson? Leaders have to communicate through channels that will reach those they lead. The movie king had to communicate through radio, because that is how his subjects were receiving their news. These days, even the Pope is into social media, urging priests to blog and hosting a YouTube channel.
And today’s royal family is fully involved in social media with a Facebook page and a Flickr and Twitter presence. So if the movie were made about a king today, it might be called, “The King’s Blog.” The stammer wouldn’t be an issue in this format, but the preparation and carefully crafted message remain pivotal.