We have seen nothing short of a deluge of corporate communications across all aspects of our professional and personal lives as COVID-19 quickly moved from initial news stories about a development in China to a crisis of global proportions. After having sifted through the overwhelming number of updates received via email, social media, news coverage, advertisements, our interpersonal networks (virtually!), and other channels, we here at KARV are offering a few observations about best practices to keep in mind as companies and organizations endeavor to connect with a wide variety of audiences:
- Make sure all communications, both internal and external, express genuine empathy for employees, their loved ones, and others who may be sick or otherwise affected by this pandemic, and make an effort to take stock of the real costs and challenges each stakeholder may face at this time.
- Make a clear-eyed assessment of current advertising and marketing campaigns across all platforms – from TV commercials to paid search ads to scheduled social media posts – and be prepared to pause any that are inappropriate or tone-deaf given the current environment. This may also include adjusting the voice and tone the company uses for ongoing regular communications such as promotional newsletters or discount offers.
- Similarly, examine all planned announcements and media outreach around normal company developments such as product launches or new hires. Consider how such announcements will be received amid the pandemic and whether a delay or adjustment of the company’s message may be necessary.
- Have a plan in place for decision making and information dissemination as circumstances change and additional issues emerge, with roles and responsibilities clearly assigned.
- Find reliable sources of information and base all decisions and public statements on only the most recent, factual data. Be prepared to update messaging if and when the facts change. This is especially important in a time when trust in government and the media is low and false information spreads rapidly, and brands and business leaders may be respected as authoritative voices for audiences well beyond their employees and customers.
- Wherever possible, inform employees and key partners of company initiatives or decisions directly, and either before or simultaneously with public announcements. Even where employees are supportive of the decisions made, hearing directly from company leadership fosters a greater sense of trust and community than learning about developments from media coverage. In cases where employees may not be supportive, it is even more critical to offer the sense of reassurance and space for questions and answers that comes from direct communication.
As always – and especially in these unprecedented times of dramatic, constant, and anxiety-producing change – KARV is available to help with any enterprise’s communications needs. We hope you are all staying well, safe, and at home.