6 pointers for communicating about COVID-19
We are in unprecedented times on a global scale. Trust is vital during times of crises. Miscommunication can cause confusion and confusion can cause panic. Here are my top tips for communicators and leaders:
- Communicate in simple clear language using plain English (or similar in your country). It is important that everyone, from all ages and backgrounds, understands what you are trying to say. I was always told to imagine that I was talking to my grandparents when compiling communications messages e.g. they might not understand what social distancing means. Be empathetic and lead with concern but don’t downplay the seriousness. Consider using visuals such as info-graphics to make your point even clearer.
- To avoid confusion keep your messaging consistent. Appoint one or two senior experienced people within your organisation to represent you to prevent lots of people communicating different messages. Ensure your spokespeople are communicating the same message. Secure media training for your official spokespeople.
- Remember that any internal emails may end up in the news. Before you press “send” – consider what this message would look like if it ended up on the front page of your local newspaper. Also remember that the media is now global not local so your message may go around the world.
- State what your plan is and make sure you deliver on it – unless you have to change strategy which can happen. Trust is gained when you deliver on what you say you are going to do. Chopping and changing breeds mistrust as does not delivering on your promise. Credibility is also questioned if you do the opposite of what you said you were going to do. (See January book club ‘Smart Trust’ on LinkedIn)
- Balance humanity with profits. Of course profits are vital to your survival. But consider the impact of your decisions on your stakeholders – your customers, your employees, your community and your suppliers etc as these are the people who have been driving your success. (see our Book Club book – Crisis Ready for more information)
- Provide regular updates. Be proactive. Don’t hide. Don’t say no comment. Whatever you do don’t lie as it’s the fastest way to lose trust and credibility.
By Mandy Queen, Director, Cred Communications.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need support in your communications.