Even as businesses are slowly reopening or bringing their employees back to the office as our nation gradually revives, many businesses are still wondering how to clearly communicate during this time.
When we first started dealing with the effects of COVID-19, many thought this would be a quick and fairly easy effort. Businesses would be closed and people would work from home for a few weeks – an inconvenience but not unmanageable.
But in our fourth month of wearing masks, retail stores that are still closed, restaurants that cannot seat the same number of people as before and employees still working from home, communications efforts are challenging. How many times can people hear the phrases “We are all in this together” or “During these challenging times”?
There are some important communications guidelines you can follow to ensure you are communicating as clearly as possible.
- Be transparent. This is not an easy time and there are no certain answers. Your communications should reflect that.
- Know your message. As with any communication effort, know what you want to say and why you are saying it. This will help you stay on message every time you communicate to customers and employees, write a blog post or post on social media. And it will help everyone in the company who has a communications role say the same thing. Consistency is key here.
- Develop a communications plan for each audience. You will communicate in different ways with various audiences. You won’t use the same communications vehicle to reach employees as you would customers or shareholders. And, while your message is the same, it will be used in different ways. Always develop your plan with your audience in mind.
- Don’t forget to communicate with your employees. These are the people who are dealing with your customers or clients every day. Employees must be informed so they can answer questions and ensure that your customers or clients feel comfortable doing business with you at a time when talk of a second wave of COVID-19 is headlining the news.
- Engage with intention. Don’t communicate just because everyone else is. Or because you feel you have to. You must know your why – why are you communicating. Remember all the emails you received when this first started – the emails telling you what every business you have ever interacted with was doing to keep their employees safe? Some of those emails were not necessary. Make sure you are communicating with a purpose.
- Use all your communications channels. When you develop your communication plan for each audience, keep in mind how they like to be communicated to. Are you using an online tool such as Slack or Google Hangouts to reach employees? Maybe you are using email for shareholders. What about social media for customers? How can your messaging be adapted to fit these channels?
We can help you think through your message: how to say it, when to say it and where to say it. Knowing how to best communicate your information to your key audiences can be difficult. We can ask you the right questions to help us develop a communications plan that will meet your audience where they are with a message they will want to hear. Feel free to call us. We can help.
Written by: Denise Clark, PR Specialist