How well you communicate with your constituents as you face the continually changing environment brought about by the global pandemic known as COVID-19 or the Coronavirus, will have a long-lasting impact on your organization’s reputation. Will you be known as someone who communicated frequently or well – or will your constituents turn elsewhere for information they should have or could have received from you? Here are four important things you need to consider:
- Coordinate your message internally. Do not send mixed or contrary messages, as you will immediately lose credibility. That means all communications should be coming from one central point. Establish a crisis communications team, comprised of your chief communications person and people who are knowledgeable about the impact of COVID-19 on your organization. The chief executive (or Executive Director) and often a board member are a part of this team.
- Communicate frequently. First, be sure to tell people what you know for sure: the hours of operation, what services are closed or available. Then move onto the things you do not know or are uncertain. Even if you don’t have all the answers, let people know you are working through them and how you are sorting out the abundance of information. Many people we have talked with recently describe that they are taking things “day to day”. Then you need to communicate day to day, as well.
- Stick to what you know. Once you communicate the basics, then talk about things which are within your area of expertise. Health care organizations can communicate about keeping safe, libraries can communicate about downloading books, and environmental groups can suggest that the best way to social distance is to take a walk in the woods. Stick to what you know and communicate it.
- Use a direct communication forum. Preferably e-blasts with a subject line that lets people know it is an update from you. Use social media — but effectively, and sparingly. Communicate relative information and try to share information that is useful and/or make people feel better or happier.
If you consistently communicate good information, people will be more reassured and confident. Be the organization that is the purveyor of such information and your constituents will reward you with loyalty.
At Danosky & Associates, we are committed to helping you through these challenging times. If you have questions about this article or are experiencing other strategic needs please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-799-6330.