Now is not the time to be pulling out your crisis plan; that passed yesterday! It should be in full swing.
Early, balanced and reliable communication should be the ‘best medicine’ to help you with the challenge… and it is likely to be that way for some time to come.
However, you should be planning now your business-as-usual communication strategies, and taking into account the ‘new world’ environment – it is going to be different and unusual.
The new reality is physical distancing, not social distancing with the emphasis on digital virtual events which are based on trust and leadership.
This is the new world!
And it is backed by recent research from Cision Insights which also shows there is a critical role for businesses with employee ‘trust’. The research showed that employees trust their employers to vet and share information with them about the ongoing situation on a regular basis, above even the government or traditional media.
In the meantime, on the digital side everyone is gravitating towards light, happy content. Contents that says, ‘we are here for you, we are part of this community and we will get through this together’.
Here are six (6) ‘how’s’ and ‘what’s’ for you to take into account with your ‘new world’ BAU communications; some of them you may already be doing so you are ahead of the curve.
Values - Speak to your Values: Use the Trust that you have earned to speak to your factions. You have to maintain and strengthen this Trust in everything you communicate.
3Ts - Transparency, Truth and Timeliness are the keys to your messages. They are the head, heart and guts (the navigators) of what you should be communicating.
Mistakes - Don’t be afraid of mistakes; we are in a new world. Your employees are your first line of contact. Engage with them in two-way communication, not top-down without feedback. Your CEO or other stream leaders should be showing the way, but if something doesn’t work, change to another media channel.
Authenticity - Add value to people’s lives: Use ‘authentic communication’ in social media to help people – from LinkedIn, to Facebook to Twitter; even consider TikTok. Or use your own internal communication channels, but it has to be visual; email should not be the sole engagement channel. Also use videos to personalise and strengthen the message. Always start with the facts, use trusted sources for the information and relate them to experiences so as to engage your factions.
Leadership Engagement – Reactivate your CEO, Directors, Department Head or Deputy head and stream leaders to lead the engagement. Ensure the messages incorporate empathy and most of all direction. Get them to ‘reach out’ in a transparent and personal way, e.g. ask the simple questions: ‘How are you? What are you doing? What’s happening to you? How can we help?’ – not just telling them ‘here’s what we are doing.’
Consistency: Maintain engagement at least once a week and vary the methodology and the leaders. Also consider pre-engaging your factions by asking them for questions for your CEO or others to address.