It is undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly changed the way we all communicate, both in business and our everyday lives.
With the virus forcing us to stay apart, communication has become more important than ever to keep in touch with colleagues, friends, and family, and the pandemic has served as a reminder of how crucial it is to communicate clearly and concisely.
Through their updates on the virus, some leaders have demonstrated the implications that can arise if information is relayed in a way that is ambiguous and unclear, and have faced heavy criticism for creating uncertainty through their ‘clouded messaging’. Other authoritative figures have been praised for their fast-thinking and concise communications, which have arguably led to a lower mortality rate by helping people understand the actions they need to take to help mitigate the virus.
On a business level, we can all learn from the communication styles adopted by key figures throughout the pandemic, and use them to inform how [and how not] to approach our own messaging, both internally and externally.
As many businesses are working from home, it is easy for communication to break down, but during such uncertain times internal communication should be at the forefront of every business owner’s mind.
The financial implications of the virus are hitting businesses hard, and all employees will be acutely aware of this. There is likely to be worry about the future of jobs and whether some people are to be furloughed because of a decline in business. By maintaining a strong communication line and staying transparent, employers can reduce staff anxiety and speculation about the future, and provide much needed reassurance. Remember, for a business to survive these unprecedented times, it needs an engaged, knowledgeable and aware workforce.
Whilst many businesses will have had a comprehensive external communications strategy ready to go before the pandemic, these will likely have been scrapped. For businesses to maintain a strong relationship with their customers now and after the pandemic, they must be able to adapt any existing comms strategy to ensure they can take an agile and sensitive approach during this time.
A business’ external communications strategy over the next couple of months will ultimately set the tone of customer opinion. By taking control of their messaging, brands can use this time to increase customer loyalty whilst illustrating their worth.
No matter how businesses decide to approach their comms, they must always act with integrity, even if they are feeling the pressure of this continually evolving situation. If they remain honest with their employees, customers and other important stakeholders, and keep them updated on how the business continues to operate, it will help solidify a positive reputation and build customer and staff loyalty that lasts.