Lessons learned from the Silicon Valley Bank collapse

Mar 15, 2023 Laura Garofalo

💬 Silicon Valley Bank’s communications hurt more than they helped:

📝 The press release spooked investors and depositors;
📞 The word “panic” was used during a call…and caused panic;
💥 And fear spread through a popular newsletter read by the VC/startup community, which led to the bank run.

🏦 Over the weekend, the FDIC stepped in and now we’re in a holding pattern. 

🤔 How will this shake out? We don’t know yet, but here’s a reminder about good communication during bad times: 

☑️ Be transparent…and human. Your customers, employees, investors and other key stakeholders want and need reassurance. Sometimes the numbers and facts don’t tell the whole story. Share a narrative that gives them more context — this will help (re)establish trust and build confidence. The goal is to sound human, like this statement from SVB’s newly appointed CEO. Communication delivered calmly, but authentically, can often help any community pull together and weather difficult times.

☑️ Balance speed with substance. Your words and actions will be scrutinized. Speed is important, but not at the expense of being wrong. This is where your holding statement comes in — it’s what you offer to hold the situation while you figure out the truth or full impact.

☑️ Prepare for worst case scenarios. When you’re caught unprepared, you become reactive to the situation, which makes it too easy to make mistakes that could be easily prevented. This can make you look defensive while gulping for air between fending off attacks. But when you’re prepared you can be responsive and even proactive to keep your reputation intact. This is why every company needs a crisis communications plan.

When these events happen, a lot of companies debate whether or not they should speak up or shut up. Ask these questions to find clarity: 

☑️ What’s most significant about this news event?
☑️ What unique point of view do we have about what happened?
☑️ How does this directly impact our customers, employees and other stakeholders?
☑️ What repercussions should we anticipate?
☑️ What can be learned from the incident?
☑️ Why should people care about this?

“Companies should do everything SVB didn’t do from a communications standpoint - message to all audiences, communicate transparently and anticipate objections.”

— Jason Morris, president, Inkhouse

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Laura Garofalo

Laura is the vice president of marketing at Inkhouse.

Read more from Laura Garofalo

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