By Megan Lacy, Wild Hive Account Director
If you’re feeling exhausted right now, you’re in good company. Amid a global pandemic, economic concerns and civil unrest, crisis fatigue is becoming a new normal that you, your employees and your family are experiencing. This fatigue can translate into your communications, but now more than ever, maintaining strong communications remains critical.
Over the past several months, we’ve been working with our clients to address their pressing needs and a few themes are arising as we navigate their unique challenges. Here are some of our key takeaways for communicating in this sustained crisis:
- Be nimble with your internal communications channels: It’s likely you’ve already made changes to your internal communications. Depending on the size of your organization, these changes may vary from more regular team meetings to video calls to new channels and platforms you’re using to keep people feeling connected, engaged and informed. Gain employee feedback on how these channels are working and be prepared to adjust to meet the evolving needs of your workforce. Whether you are the leader of your organization or the head communicator, be prepared to look at new ways to communicate with your teams and keep your communications short, to the point, and consistent. The content of what you are communicating is as important as how you’re communicating it.
- Find ways to be a helper: We are in an ongoing crisis with no foreseeable end, which means every industry has a role in helping to address the current crisis. Find what your organization is uniquely able to offer to assist in the crisis and do this. Listen to your employees about the opportunities they see for your organization to support people through the crisis. Don’t expect media coverage for it. Don’t expect a pat on the back. Do it because it’s the right thing, and with no known end to the pandemic or economic fall-out or civil unrest, this is the new normal. As an added bonus, your employees will feel empowered, and you’ll have positive results to reinforce with them through your improved communications channels.
- Amplify your own voice: The media landscape is dominated by the crises at-hand, and the space for earned media coverage is small. Lean into or create new channels of your own to tell your story. If you’ve been considering launching a newsroom or new channel, now is the time to do it. Make sure your content is relevant to your audiences, but don’t be afraid to be your own advocate.
- Listen and be prepared to change your approach based on what you learn: Communications is a two-way street. The news about the pandemic in particular is constantly changing, and as leaders and communicators, we must be prepared to shift course based on new information. Now is the time to enhance your media monitoring and social listening tools to ensure you’re capturing your audience’s perspectives. Ensure these tools are helping you analyze information quickly and easily. Reach out to your key stakeholders just to check in and understand the challenges they are facing.
- Be transparent, authentic and empathetic in your messaging and approach: Everyone is trying to find a relevant voice in these narratives. Some are authentic, genuine and truly helpful; others are opportunistic, self-serving and may be virtue signaling. As important as it is for organizations to be proactive, it’s equally important that they be deliberate, thoughtful and measured during this time. Asking “why this?” and “why now?” before communicating is a helpful way to ensure the answers to those questions align with your organization’s values. You are not expected to have all the answers in this crisis; you are expected to offer clarity, thoughtfulness and empathy in your communications. Be prepared to break down the challenges your organization is facing and even slow down to ensure you are addressing the issues at hand with transparency, honesty and integrity.
We don’t know when the crises we’re facing will end, so focus on your core values, providing value to your audiences, and keeping the lines of communication open internally and externally.