The COVID-19 pandemic has caused businesses around the world to reach for their crisis management playbooks for a solution to the chaos around them. The situation is very serious, and people, understandably, have turned their focus to ensuring the safety of themselves and those around them. As a result, businesses face a shock at a scale we have not seen in a century.
Communication, both internally and externally, is one of the most difficult challenges confronting organizations during this difficult time. Lacking a clear communication plan can lead to a range of problems for your organization, such as increased employee frustration and decreased productivity or alienation of your partners and clients. It is critical for every organization to maintain its brand image as well as continue to build customer trust and relationships.
So, do organizations need a plan for effective communication in a time of crisis? The answer is definitely YES. Effective communication enables seamless collaboration internally and with clients and stakeholders, which is more important than ever in today’s frenzied environment. Kenan Foundation Asia recommends the following five easy steps you can apply to help your company or organization achieve effective communication during the COVID 19 crisis.
- “WHY” do you have to communicate?
Always ask yourself “WHY” before creating your content, i.e. what is the purpose behind the message I want to send to my colleagues, stakeholders, or clients? By clarifying the purpose, you will be in a good position to communicate a meaningful response to ongoing issues. In the time of COVID, is this message really necessary or welcomed by our audience?
- “WHAT” is your key message?
Identify the key message you want to communicate. This is very important because your organization must be able to communicate a clear message that adds value to the recipient. For example, during the COVID 19 crisis, your company may want to communicate to clients how your company will handle this situation to guarantee the safety and the quality of your products and services. A positive message will help your company maintain a good image and reputation in the market.
- “WHO” are your key audiences? (Internal & External)
KNOW your audience! You cannot communicate effectively without knowing who you are talking to. So, you should identify the audience group and then prepare the “right message” for that group. Remember that the needs of each group differ during the crisis. For example, while your customers may want to know if your company can still deliver the same quality products or services during the pandemic, internal staff may need to know how your company will support them to work effectively from home. Ask yourself how this audience will receive your message; will they welcome it or be too busy with handling their crisis response.
- How do you reach your key audiences?
What communication “CHANNELS” do you have to reach your target audiences? You can simply list your channels, and then pinpoint the “right channel” for your message to achieve its objective with your audience. For instance, if you intend to communicate about your products or services to your clients, you may consider using your website, email, social media, or even letters. However, if you would like to communicate about your work-at-home policy to your internal staff, it may be better to use the intranet, internal email, or closed social media groups. Remember, you don’t want to misalign your channels and audiences. Clearly, people are spending more time on social media and email now that they are on work from home.
- When is the right time to communicate to your audience?
Even if you deliver the “right message” through the “right channels,” your communication can still fail if it is sent at the “wrong time.” You must identify “WHEN” you need to communicate. Also, to make it even more effective, you can identify “HOW MANY TIMES” you need to communicate to make sure the “right message” resonates with your audience. Now more than ever, you must look at your audience and key message and ask, “Is this something my audience needs now or can even pay attention to at this time?” If the message is not welcome now, it is best to change the message or wait for a better time.
If you follow these five simple steps, you can help your company achieve effective communication. Now, it’s time to develop a communication plan so that we can get through this difficult time together.
By Mr. Naruecha Putithanarak
Communications Manager at Kenan Foundation Asia