by Abbi Whitaker
For many of us who are responsible for public communications, there is a natural inclination to want to comment or intervene on the events taking place in the cultural zeitgeist. While this can be an excellent way to ensure that your communications are relevant and timely, it’s important to practice discretion and decency—should you choose to go that route.
Set a Constructive, Helpful Tone
As a leader, it is your responsibility thoughtful as you participate in public conversation about crises like the current pandemic. Understand that people—including yourself—might be under more emotional strain than usual and that a little patience and graciousness can go a long way.
Don’t point fingers, fan the flames of fear and controversy, or contribute to public chaos and vitriol. Do focus on being constructive, honest and kind—and, if possible, check yourself out of the discourse when necessary. There is such a thing as too much screentime, after all.
Focus on Audience Needs
If your intention is to help, it’s important to make sure that you’re providing useful, credible, and thoughtful content that genuinely provides value to people. Think twice and make sure that any information that you’re sharing is carefully vetted. One of the last things you want to do during fractious times is muddy the waters with questionable data, unclear advice, or needlessly inflammatory “hot takes”.
Plan for the Long Game
Sometimes, crises last longer than a day, a week or even a couple of months. Certainly, that’s proven to be the case with the COVID-19 pandemic.
For that reason, it’s important to update your communications plans and business protocols to retain a degree of flexibility, agility, and foresight. While none of us can dependably predict the future, we can give ourselves al of the tools we’ll need to respond to developments gracefully as they occur—and alter our strategies to make the most of tough times.
Lean Into Digital Communications
Put plainly—at a lack of any place in particular to go and with lots of information to stay on top of, people are spending a lot more time at their desktop computers and mobile devices. In fact, we’re seeing that email open and click-through rates have risen dramatically since February.
Mindfully considered, this increased capture of audience attention can prove advantageous to communicators who understand audience needs and priorities and respond to them accordingly. Should you choose to seize this opportunity, it’s critically important to do so with integrity, and the best examples of your emotional intelligence.
Learn about effective communications during a crisis at NCET’s Biz Bite Online on Friday, Aug 28. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. More info at www.NCETbite.org
Abbi Whitaker is the President at The Abbi Agency (http://theabbiagency.com/) and a fierce advocate for driving positive outcomes through integrated, strategic communications.