There's no such thing as a secret anymore when every employee is a media company of one. Even if they embrace your overarching direction and messaging, employees will comment about it on social media. So employees should be valued as your front-line brand ambassadors. You want them to be effective evangelists, and that means training them on key messages and sharing your best "elevator speech."
And when an organization's leaders are communicating with the public – particularly in moments of crisis – transparency and compassion are particularly important. In 1982, there was a terrible scare when seven people in the Chicago area died from Tylenol laced with cyanide due to drug tampering. James Burke, Johnson & Johnson's CEO at the time, spoke the truth and acted quickly – and saved his company from a financial disaster. Another more recent example of a CEO who stepped up to the plate in a time of crisis is AirAsia's Tony Fernandes, who was accessible and compassionate after AirAsia Flight 8501 went down in December 2014. Compare that with Malaysia Airlines now-former chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, who was widely criticized for his awkward, insensitive response after MH370 went down. He lost his job, and the company will likely suffer for his communications blunders for years to come.