While many marketing-communications professionals are accustomed to navigating crises of one sort or another, few have experience with a crisis of the magnitude, duration and widespread impact of COVID-19. How can communicators cope—and ensure an effective communications strategy—when there is a constant avalanche of news, when so much of it is unpleasant and when, let’s face it, they are also trying to manage their own concerns and fears? Start by asserting the credibility of your corporate communications department, function, strategy and responsibilities. Here are a few best practices to consider.
Responsiveness. During a global pandemic, the latest headlines provide critical context around the business, cultural, economic and public health impacts your organization faces—not to mention the impact COVID-19 may have on your brand and industry as a whole. But even under “normal” circumstances, staying on top of the never-ending news cycle can be a daunting task. Here’s where free resources from Nexis Newsdesk™ can help, by providing complimentary access to reliable, global data on how COVID-19 is shaping the global media landscape in near real-time. Our Nexis Solutions team has also compiled a database of emerging legislative issues and research materials to help you connect, share vital information and remain abreast of COVID-19’s legal impact.
Transparency. Nothing’s worse than being put on the spot with a question for which you have no answer. Unfortunately, in the case of COVID-19, there are as many unknowns as there are facts. Be prepared to be as transparent about what you don’t know as what you do; if you don’t know the answer to a question, say so—then find the answer and follow up. Arm yourself with the latest facts from reliable sources. Be prepared to vet and cite not only your data, but the outside experts you rely on to support your strategy. Validating the information, you have access to before sharing it broadly will ultimately pay dividends in establishing the importance of the corporate communications role in this unprecedented era.
Collaboration. During a crisis like COVID-19, with its impact on every aspect of business operations, it’s crucial to ensure your company is aligned to a communications strategy—to have all decision-makers singing from the same songbook, if you will. Continue to collaborate closely with other departments—legal, human resources, accounting, sales, the c-suite and beyond—to secure buy-in from across your organization on key messages, Q&As, company policies and next steps from across your organization. Identify, align on and train a single company executive to serve as public spokesperson. And remember to establish and clearly articulate where employees, key stakeholders, the media and customers can turn for more information.
Optimism. There is good news to be discovered during a global pandemic; after all, this can’t and won’t last forever. Celebrating life’s lighter moments can go a long way toward boosting morale among employees, customers and the broader public. Remember to take time daily to appreciate good news, and don’t be shy about sharing your optimism within your organization. Whether you’re watching the latest episode of Some Good News from actor John Krasinksi, retweeting an adorable cat meme , or singing along with coronavirus song parodies, there are plenty of ways to share positive vibes.