Reconnecting and Rebuilding After a Crisis


Crisis situations evoke a very specific feeling, akin to the ground beneath one’s feet suddenly giving way, plunging them into chaos and confusion. These situations are able to shatter all the stability that companies rely on and leave people’s emotions raw.

In the past, organizations navigated these turbulent waters with carefully crafted statements and damage control tactics. But today, a more potent ingredient is required, called empathy, which has become the new currency of crisis communication. Empathy isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity. 

By prioritizing genuine understanding, taking responsible action, and building authentic connections, organizations can navigate even the most turbulent times and emerge stronger. Crisis communication is a journey of empathy, commitment, and shared growth. 

It’s about walking alongside those impacted, rebuilding trust brick by brick, and ultimately, emerging from the crisis with a renewed sense of connection and purpose.


Gone are the days of scripted apologies and sterile press conferences. Audiences demand authenticity, a shared understanding of their pain, and a leader who stands alongside them, not above them. Empathy transforms communication from a transactional exchange into a human experience, forging a bridge between the organization and those impacted.

Companies should look at authenticity as a way to create a safe crossing over a raging river. Building a sturdy bridge of active listening is crucial. Put down the pre-written scripts and truly hear the concerns, fears, and stories of those affected. 

Acknowledge their unique experiences, validate their emotions, and demonstrate a genuine desire to understand. It’s not about offering platitudes. It’s about creating a safe space for authentic dialogue and learning from those most affected.


It’s not about being right. It’s about building bridges, not walls. Companies should forget about using any sort of defensive posturing and instead acknowledge the hurt, the anger, and the confusion during the situation.

Show genuine understanding by addressing their needs and concerns head-on. This doesn’t mean accepting blame blindly, but taking responsibility with sincerity and demonstrating a willingness to engage in constructive dialogue.

Actionable steps

Empathy requires more than just words. It requires tangible actions that express sincerity. Show rather than just say. Admit mistakes openly, outline plans for change, and keep stakeholders informed.

Welcome feedback and show a true dedication to growth and progress. Rebuilding trust is a gradual process, with each action and decision being a step in the right direction.


The need to appear in complete control is powerful. However, embracing vulnerability can lead to authenticity. Show genuine remorse, admit mistakes, and be open to being accountable. By revealing the human side during a crisis, brands can build empathy and begin the healing process.


Communication shouldn’t be a one-way street. Empower those impacted to share their experiences, their frustrations, and their hopes. Create platforms for open dialogue, encourage feedback, and be receptive to diverse perspectives. By involving stakeholders in the process of healing and change, brands demonstrate respect and build a sense of shared ownership.


The world is diverse, and a one-size-fits-all approach won’t do. Recognizing and respecting the cultural nuances of those affected is crucial. Tailor all communication and actions to be culturally relevant.

Show that the company understands their context, their values, and their unique experiences. This demonstrates empathy and fosters meaningful connections that transcend the immediate crisis.

Ronn Torossian founded 5W Public Relations, a leading PR firm.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and Chairman of 5WPR, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company’s growth, overseeing more than 275 professionals. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named “PR Agency of the Year” by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world’s most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine’s Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country’s foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations,” which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.

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