Communicating in a Prolonged Crisis

Rarely does a crisis hit everyone but the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on every age group, customer, employee, CEO, and citizen in the world. During this crisis, who have we turned to for information? Of course, there are the usual national and local media and government sources as well as social media and the overwhelming mountain of information (both factual and non-factual) from internet sources. And, every company that you’ve ever done business with sent you at least one email explaining how they’re coping with this crisis and reassuring you that “we’re all in this together.” And, let’s not get started on TV ads that seem to have the same message right now.

Who did we listen to the most? The people with something relevant and credible to say. Two esteemed doctors have become household names — Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx – because they used their expertise to explain science and medicine to the general public in ways that are understandable and meaningful.

With every company feeling compelled to join the conversation right now, fatigue is setting in. All those daily calls, hourly updates, news notifications, and the nearly constant barrage of “we’re all in this together” is wearing us down. However, there is still important information that a company’s stakeholders need to know. This information should be consistent, fresh, and only shared when necessary. Here are some additional tips to help you navigate what and when to communicate during this crisis.

  • Provide new and useful information to your stakeholders that is pertinent to your company. We all know we should be washing our hands — make sure what you say matters.
  • Present your information in a quick and easy to read manner. Great design helps readability and short statements keep people interested.
  • Continue to communicate in your company voice even if it’s usually lighthearted. Don’t be tone deaf to what is going on but stay consistent. A light touch can still be informative and compassionate.

Even if your business is currently closed, you should already be planning for the next phase – whatever that might look like. Develop a communications plan for the next month, six months, and a year, knowing you will need to be flexible as timeframes may change. Write and design the communications items in your plan now. Even if you don’t end up using them soon, you will be ready to respond quickly when the time comes.

A lot more will change in 2020 and many companies might need to manage doing business very differently in the future. Consider how your business can learn, grow and adapt from this crisis. Keep up the conversation with your audiences when appropriate, making sure to listen as well as inform. You might learn there are better and more efficient ways to conduct your business or even reach new customers.