COVID-19 – What now…what and how to communicate?
A crisis is always just a crisis. Even when it’s on an unprecedented scale, the principles of crisis management and communications stay the same.
Effective communications during a crisis are about action, reassurance and above all, transparency. This applies to employees, customers, suppliers, partners and also with the government. We must demonstrate that action is taken, that decisions are made and that we remain in full control of the situation despite the turmoil.
Considering that the crisis is affecting both our professional and personal lives, we must listen and demonstrate empathy. Some key considerations:
- Communicating with employees without being able to interact directly can present challenges in the current telework situation. Ensure you use the right tone in your communications and pay special attention to choosing the right words for clear communication. Keep communications channels open at all times.
- It is essential to plan for the continuity of your communications team. Fatigue and pressure are felt after a few days of crisis, and employees could become ill. Ensure you have people to cover for them.
- Government communications at all levels are numerous, repetitive, and quickly evolving – directives, restrictions, announcements of employee and business support programs, etc. It is necessary to closely monitor your own day-to-day operations to stay on top of these issues. On the one hand, it will provide you with a better understanding of how government programs can support you in the crisis. On the other hand, you must also ensure that governments are fully aware of your industry’s situation, without exaggerating it. Transparency is key in this time of crisis.
- Although the end of the crisis is hard to predict, prepare your post-COVID-19 plan. When things can get back on track, you can then start your recovery plan and deploy your communication plan in a timely manner.